Report creation date: 14.10.2008 - 11:42
Countr(y/ies): Serbia
Chapter(s): 1,2,21,22,23,24,241,242,243,244,245,246,3,31,32,33,4,41,42,421,422,423,424,425,426,427,428,429,4210,43,5,51,511,512,513,514,515,516,517,518,519,52,53,531,532,533,534,535,536,537,538,539,5310,6,61,62,63,64,7,71,72,73,8,81,811,812,813,82,821,822,83,831,832,84,841,842,9,91,92

Serbia/ 1. Historical perspective: cultural policies and instruments

It is a truism that a nation's culture cannot be divorced from its social, economic and political circumstances and, in all these areas, Serbia has continued to face severe difficulties since the Democratic Opposition overthrew the Milosevic regime in October 2000. According to a government report, "Serbia emerged from the ashes with the heritage of a dissolved Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) and ten years of despoticBelgrade, Trgrepublike and erratic rule, an economy in shambles and a legal and physical infrastructure badly distorted through the neglect and abuse of power."

The Belgrade Agreement of 2002 established the Federal State of Serbia-Montenegro, which was legally made up of two separate republics: the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Montenegro. Informally, the Republic of Serbia includes two autonomous provinces, Vojvodina (northern part of Serbia) and Kosovo; the latter, however, officially remains under the control of a United Nations administration and therefore the Serbian government has no legal influence in Kosovo. Each Republic had its own Ministry responsible for culture: the Serbian Ministry for Culture and Media and the Montenegrin Ministry for Culture. The province of Vojvodina has its own Secretariat for Education and Culture.

Despite the devastation of the last decade, and the difficulties of the present, many of the surviving strengths of Serbian cultural life can be seen to be derived from a long tradition of cultural discourse shaping national identity. At the level of infrastructure and management, one can look back to the relative certainties of life under the Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia, in which decentralisation and institutional self-government were key characteristics of cultural policy as long ago as the 1960s. These traditional practices are still applicable today and are currently being adapted in response to the new social, economic and political conditions.

The development of cultural policy in Serbia, over the past fifty years, can be examined within four main phases of political change:

Social Realism and a Repressive Cultural Model (1945 - 1953): The first phase can be characterised by social realism copied from Stalin's model of culture in the former USSR. The function of culture, in an ideological sense, was utilitarian and did not encourage the idea of culture as a field for individual freedom of any sort. Luckily, this phase was brief and was followed by a period of progressive cultural action.

Democracy in Culture (1953 - 1974): Within the second phase, two parallel cultural developments can be identified; one was still under strong state and ideological control, while the other, which was more creative and vivid, slowly gained artistic freedom. By the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s, many new institutions and prestigious international festivals for different art forms had been established. A large network of municipal cultural institutions, such as houses of culture, libraries and cinemas was also created. At the same time, many individual artists were sanctioned and their works (films, theatre plays and productions, books, etc.) were banned. This was not an officially proclaimed policy but was exercised through political and ideological pressure.

Decentralisation and Self-Governance (1974 - 1989): This third phase is particularly known for the specific policy initiatives to decentralise culture throughout the former Yugoslavia. Serbia had some additional particularities concerning its multi-ethnic and multi-cultural character. Two autonomous provinces (Vojvodina and Kosovo) were given full competence over cultural policy as a result of their multi-ethnic and cultural structure. The entire cultural system was transformed during this period. Self-governing communities of interest were introduced and "free labour exchanges" facilitated closer links among cultural institutions and local economies through, for example, theatre communities, private galleries, etc. In the mid 1980s, a strong nationalistic movement emerged among official and unofficial political and cultural institutions, which was especially stimulated by the liberalisation of the media.

Culture of Nationalism (1990 - 2000): Serbia and Montenegro was lacking a general concept or strategy for culture as well as a clear definition of cultural policy. This ambiguity, therefore, marginalised culture as a creative impulse and process in the modernisation of society and emphasised its role as a "keeper" and promoter of national identity. Self-government was abolished as a system, and cultural institutions were returned to state / municipal authority, nominating directors and controlling their activities. The role and contribution of leading cultural NGOs had been vitally important in Serbia. They first became a distinct feature of opposition to the official culture of nationalism and state control in Serbia during the Milosevic years. In fact, it has been claimed that as much as 50% of the resistance to the Milosevic regime, during the 1990s, was manifested through culture and the active struggle on the part of NGOs, independent publishers and artists for a different way of life. This struggle was spread throughout the country. Their actions received significant material assistance from the international community and notably from the Soros Foundation via its Open Society Fund, Serbia.

Culture in Transformation (2001 -2004): A special accent was placed on reforms of the main national cultural institutions and the public sector in general, demanding the introduction of new managerial and marketing techniques. The first evaluation of national cultural policy within the Council of Europe programme had been completed and was approved in November 2002.

Taking into account more than 10 years of devastation, extreme centralisation, étatisation and manipulation, the necessary priorities for all levels of public policy-making were:

Stagnation period: 2004 - March 2007. Continuing to act through procedures (competitions and commissions) established in the previous period, the Ministry of Culture had not officially changed or introduced new priorities, although by interviews and statements, as well as by funding allocations, certain shifts in priorities can be observed, from those previously stated, to support for the protection of Serbian national cultural heritage (mostly sacral built heritage). The cultural policy debate has been stopped. Still, a few interesting initiatives can be identified, such as the first prize for private - public partnership programmes, and the Cultural Infrastructural Development Plan within the National Investment Plan.

Due to the lack of funds and specific policies, professionals in the cultural field participated in the process of life-long learning, in retraining programmes or courses to improve their professional skills, sporadically, usually under the initiative of foreign donors or NGOs.

While open competitions to fund cultural projects have been in operation since 2000, decided by commissions, the first competition for commission members was only launched in September 2006, changing the policy of nominations to the commissions to a more transparent procedure.

After the Referendum on 21 May 2006, Montenegro became an independent nation. Some authorities on the former federal level have been reorganised and some of them have been abolished. See 2.2 for more information.

In May 2007, a new government of Serbia was appointed and the Ministry of Culture started to work on new priorities and strategies. Many working groups were created, to establish new laws (General Law on Culture, heritage protection, etc), or to define new concrete programmes and strategies (digitalisation, decentralisation, cultural research development, etc.) or to introduce certain topics for public debate (politics of memory and remembrance, culture for children, intercultural dialogue...). Public debates were held on drafts of new legislation, with the involvement of the Minister, representatives of the Ministry and experts (mostly cultural professionals), in those first six months of the new government.

Serbia/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.1 Organisational structure (organigram)




Serbia/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.2 Overall description of the system

The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia has overall responsibility for culture, which it partly shares with the Secretary for Culture in the autonomous province of Vojvodina. This sharing of responsibility was carried out on the basis of the "Omnibus Law" passed in February 2002 and in line with the general policy of decentralisation.

After the Referendum on 21 May 2006, Montenegro became an independent nation. Some authorities on the former federal level have been reorganised and some of them have been abolished. The former Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Ethnic Communities are currently operating on the republic level. The former is still in charge of general bilateral and multilateral co-operation with international institutions and national governments, while the latter is operating as the Office for Ethnic Communities, with fairly similar competences concerning policy on multiculturalism.

The Ministry of Education is responsible for arts education, arts management training, youth and student cultural activities and institutions.

The Ministry for Religious Affairs is responsible for multi-confessionalism as well as for the religious infrastructure.

The Ministry of Diaspora is responsible for cultural programmes and projects for Diaspora Communities as well as for cooperation with Diaspora cultural societies.

Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia is the main body responsible for: policies and strategies for cultural development, support for 22 cultural institutions of national importance, legal issues in the field of culture, protection of the cultural heritage, and regulating and preparation of the laws relevant to the media space.

Provincial Secretariat for Education and Culture of Vojvodina is responsible for specific issues of cultural policy in its territory due to the special needs and ethnic structure of this province. It is responsible for the major provincial cultural institutions.

National Councils of Ethnic Minorities (12) were created in 2004 and have, among other responsibilities, the duty to conceptualise and develop a cultural policy and strategy specific for each minority.

City Councils (4 major cities: Belgrade, Nis, Kragujevac, Novi Sad) are key partners in developing cultural policy and facilitating participation in cultural life including maintaining a diversified network of cultural institutions such as: theatres, libraries, museums and taking care of free-lance artists. The City Council of Belgrade has founded some of the most important international festivals (e.g. BITEF, FEST, and BEMUS) and cultural institutions which are often of importance for the whole Serbian territory, e.g. the Theatre Museum.

Municipalities (local self-governments) are developing local cultural policies to stimulate participation in cultural life, amateur activities and local cultural institutions and civil initiatives. In Serbia, there are 164 municipalities, which usually consist of a city with 10 to 15 neighbouring villages (plus, there are 29 municipalities in Kosovo, several of which rely on funds from Serbia for cultural and other activities, heritage protection, etc. such as Velika Hoča)

Serbia/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.3 Inter-ministerial or intergovernmental co-operation

While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Serbia is responsible for international issues, the Ministry of Culture is placed in a collaborative position when it comes to artistic and cultural issues in international co-operation and integration initiatives. The National UNESCO Committee is also situated within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has links with the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education. Recently, new initiatives have been created to restart the activities of Serbian cultural centres located in foreign countries, involving the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of the Diaspora and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Inter-ministerial co-operation on the level of the Serbian government has not been institutionalised. However, for specific questions and problems or projects, links have been established sporadically. On many occasions, the necessity to create inter-ministerial working groups (even inter-ministerial funds) has been underlined, especially regarding links between culture, education and science. Furthermore, common ties between tourism and culture, also between the cultural industries and the economic sector, have not yet been sufficiently recognised and publicly debated. Examples of this lack of inter-ministerial co-operation are when the Serbian Ministry of Science and Technological Development drafted an economic development strategy without considering the importance of the cultural industries, the media (2003), and in 2006 it is drafting a National Strategy for the Development of Science without consulting the Ministry of Culture and Tourism when it comes to Arts and Humanities etc. The existent inter-ministerial committee is the "Committee for the Support of the Tradition of National Liberating Wars", which actively protects and restores the military graveyards outside of the borders of Serbia.

There are no inter-ministerial committees or inter-governmental networks responsible for promoting intercultural dialogue.

Serbia/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.1 Overview of main structures and trends

One of the most important tasks identified by the government, from 2001 - 2003, was to re-establish the broken links with all international institutions and organisations. Specific cultural priorities had not been defined, but European integration is considered as an ultimate government task. The principal document relevant for this issue is the National Strategy of the Republic of Serbia SCG`s Accession. Among priorities announced by the Parliamentary Committee for Culture, in October 2007, was "harmonisation of the cultural and media systems with standards set by the EU and the Council of Europe", while issues relevant for international cooperation are covered in 4 of the 7 main aims of the Ministry (integration of the heritage in world cultural flows, active participation of contemporary artists in cultural life, etc.).

The Ministry for Culture in Serbia considers that cities and municipalities, as well as public cultural institutions, are very active internationally: working with the majority of relevant cultural institutions and individuals in formal and informal co-operation, linked with projects and initiatives of the international community from the private (NGO) and public sectors, including inter-governmental bodies such as the Council of Europe and UNESCO. However, the analysis of the scope of cooperation is not satisfactory, as it does not have a policy and priorities, and mostly is re-active to foreign demands.

The Ministry of Culture is currently working on the design of new model agreements for bilateral cultural co-operation, and a few more contracts are being prepared (Italy, Portugal, Tunisia, and Spain). From 2002 - 2005, eight bilateral cooperation agreements had been concluded (Croatia, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Turkey, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Egypt, Bulgaria and Algeria). A specific co-operation agreement has been concluded with Hungary regarding the protection of national minorities (Hungarians in Serbia, and Serbs in Hungary).

The Ministry encourages cultural institutions to enter into their own co-operation projects and engage in networking. In October 2007, the Cultural Contact Point for Serbia was officially created outside of the Ministry. However, there is no special mobility fund or funding available to pay network fees or to make financial contributions as partners in international projects.

One of the priorities of the Serbian Ministry of Culture is regional cooperation. It participates actively in the Council of Ministers of South East Europe, and supports the inclusion of culture in the Central European Initiative. In this respect, the Ministry of Culture is working with other relevant ministries from the region to establish a Regional Fund for Cinematography.

Initial contact has been established with the Minister for Culture, Youth and Sports of the Temporary Institutions of the Government of Kosovo. Representatives of the two Ministries met, for the first time, in September 2005 and formed working groups in the fields of archiving, the return of documents and artefacts, archaeology excavations, mobility of artists, cultural cooperation etc. UNMIK is acknowledged as the facilitator of these contacts.

Serbia/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy

Cultural diplomacy is lead independently by each level of government, sporadically, without plan or general concept, mostly based on traditional established links. Even existing contracts are not seen as an obligation for strategic actions, so cultural diplomacy is mostly re-active (responding to demands from abroad). The most important actor in international cultural cooperation is the city of Belgrade, creating and financing the most important international event in Serbia for each domain of art (October Salon / Visual Arts, FEST / Film, BEMUS / Music, BITEF / Theatre, Belgrade Book Fair / Literature), as well as for different generations and types of audiences (BELEF / summer festival, The Joy of Europe / children's creativity, etc.).

The role of cultural agencies and institutes was extremely important in the first few years of re-opening Serbia to the world, bringing new types of issues within the cultural debate and helping institutional reform. However, only Pro Helvetia is now supporting local cultural activities, while all the other similar organisations develop only promotional programmes relating to  their own culture, or are supporting their own agendas, regardless of real community needs (e.g. British Council programmes of introducing the term and support for research relevant to creative industries).

It can be said that instruments of international cultural cooperation are not developed and used within certain strategies and programmes. There is no system to enable the long term commitment of public bodies, especially financial (guarantees for the programmes which have to happen in future), which prevents cultural managers from organizing big international events or network meetings (although for major sport events, the government is ready to provide such guarantees).

Training is sporadically organised by foreign cultural centres and embassies, in the fields where those embassies decide, or according to NGO or cultural institution initiatives (no Ministry policy involved). This means that the American Embassy organises fundraising training, while Italy is bringing in experts for restoration and conservation, etc. The Centre for Continuous Professional Development in Art, Culture and Media is developing, according to its own wishes and capacities, a training programme with international partners, together with the UNESCO Chair for Cultural Policy and Management (Interculturalism and Mediation in the Balkans), but each year has to address the Ministry and cities for support through general calls for projects (which prevents long term strategic thinking and planning). The UNESCO Chair developed a joint Masters programme with two French universities (I.E.P. Grenoble and University Lyon II), involving other European partners.

It is very difficult to make an assessment of trends in public financial support for international cultural co-operation, as there is no specific budget line or current statistical data, and as projects are supported through "disciplinary" categories (so, it is not certain if they had an international component and if they got public financing for this component).

Serbia/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.3 European / international actors and programmes

Within the European framework, the Serbian Ministry decided to participate actively in all the programmes relevant to the region such as MOSAIC and the Integrated Rehabilitation Project Plan; the latter conducting a survey of the architectural heritage (2003-2006), establishing the PIL (Prioritised Intervention List) and working on a feasibility study for the creation of an Institute for Conservation and Restoration. The Ministry is also implementing projects within the framework of the CARDS programme (INTERREG III).  In 2006, The Ministry of Culture started to prepare project applications for funds within the framework of IPA programme for the period 2007-2013.

The Ministry of Culture of Serbia prepared a dossier for application for observer status in the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie; its status was accorded at the meeting of OIF in Bucharest held on 29 September 2006. In the meantime, both the University of Belgrade and the University of Arts in Belgrade became members of Agence Universitaires de la Francophonie.

The Serbian cities of Belgrade and Novi Sad are active in Les Rencontres, the Association of European Cities and Regions and the first network meeting was organised in Belgrade and Novi Sad in September 2006 (on the circulation of theatre works, artists' mobility in Southeast Europe and the role of regional and local governments). 

The Ministry of Culture and the Office for Ethnic Minorities are responsible for monitoring the implementation of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

Within the cooperation agreement with the Council of Europe, three conventions have been signed in September 2007: European Landscape Convention, Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (Faro convention) and the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage during the Central Celebration of the European Heritage Days in Belgrade.

Serbia/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.4 Direct professional co-operation

All major national institutions in Serbia have many cooperation protocols and agreements signed.

The policy focus, since 2001, was on joining the European and regional professional / sectorial networks and associations, to develop international cooperation and exchange, while, at the same time, singular links are established among relevant institutions.

The Ministry of Culture participates actively in the organisation and coordination of European Heritage Days. Every year, it is directly involved in the organisation of the central celebration on the national level and Belgrade and Serbia will be the host of the 2007 Launching Ceremony of the European Heritage Days.

The National Museum in Belgrade has more than ten cooperation protocols with major European museums regarding the exchange of exhibitions and the exchange of curators. Within this scope of cooperation, several major projects have been realised, such as In touch with antics - with the Louvre (2006) or the exhibition of the European art collection of Belgrade National Museum in The Hague (2005). Also, the National Museum is active within ICOM and ICCROM, having signed a cooperation agreement with the latter.

The Museum of Contemporary Arts, as one of the oldest museums of its kind in Europe, cooperates widely and extensively with similar key institutions abroad, resulting in many important exhibitions like Museum Stedelijk Amsterdam at USCE (curated by Serbian curator B. Dimitrijevic, which represents a precedent in the museum's policy). Along this line, the Museum is preparing a new exhibition of British Contemporary Arts, curated by three Serbian curators. Important links exist with MACRO, Roma, etc. Major regional and international exhibitions had been organised since 2001, such as the cross-referencing project Conversations in 2001 (when curators and artists from different countries of the region created projects in dialogue with each other), or the Last East-European exhibition in 2004 linking curators and artists from the region.

In the field of theatre, Yugoslav Drama theatre has the most extensive international cooperation. It was member of the Convention Theatrale Europeene, and now is a member of Theatres de l'Union de l'Europe, and recently, NETA (New European Theatre Action), launched by 11 theatres in Balkan countries.

The Serbian National Theatre in Novi Sad (a central theatre institution of the autonomous province of Vojvodina) has signed agreements on cooperation with theatres and theatre institutions in Macedonia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Slovakia, Romania and Switzerland. This kind of co-operation includes: co-productions, exchanges of artistic experience, know-how transfers, exchange of performances etc. Towards the end of 2006, the Serbian National Theatre in Novi Sad was working on Shakespeare's tragedy Troilus and Cressida, a co-production with The Theatre Carouge from Geneva. This tragedy, adopted and directed by Laurence Calame in a bilingual performance of the actors from two theatres, will be performed in Switzerland and Serbia (Novi Sad, Belgrade and other Serbian towns).

The Belgrade Music Festival BEMUS has been accepted into the European Festivals Association, among 100 of the most prestigious music and theatre festivals in Europe. The Belgrade Youth Centre is active within IETM, as well as several other NGO theatres. Serbian NGOs are the most connected and active in the European and world network, such as Dah Theatre, which is a member of the Magdalena network, or Remont, which has actively participated in the creation of several Balkan networks (BAN, SEECAN, etc.)

In the field of librarianship, professional cooperation has been established within IFLA and Eblida, and more than 50 bilateral agreements of cooperation have been signed between the National Library of Serbia and the most relevant European and world national libraries. The National Library is a co-founder of the TEL project (The European Library) - a Catalogue of European National Libraries and Digital Collection of European Literary Heritage (since 2005).

Continuous professional development is organised through study visits and peer exchange within CALIMERA - Cultural applications: Local Institutions Mediating Electronic Resources project for a network of city libraries of Belgrade (knowledge transfer and exchange of experiences). The Calimera project is part of the IST programme of the EU Commission, including all the countries of the Western Balkans, lead by Slovenia as the coordinator. One example of a project carried out within Calimera is the Serbian Children's Digital Library, with 120 books, contributing towards the overall aim to have 10 000 books in 100 languages within a world network.

Cinematography, since 2000, has been developed relying a lot on co-productions - so that nearly half of the production has international, mostly regional co-producers. At the same time, the Film Centre of Serbia had granted subsidies for 4 co-production projects from Southeast European countries. A few film projects succeeded in obtaining EURIMAGES grants, and a few obtained funding for scenario development (from the Paul Nipkow Fund Berlin, Southeast European Fund, etc.)

Among cultural institutions in different Serbian cities, museums and theatres are the most active in international cultural cooperation. One example of this co-operation is the City Museum in Sombor and their Protocol on cooperation with Bács-Kiskun Megyei Múzeumi from Kecskemet, Hungary, signed on 4 May 2005; mostly the programme relates to exchange of exhibitions - visual arts, research of transborder archeological sites, and knowledge transfer (study visits and exchange of curators).

Serbia/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.5 Cross-border intercultural dialogue and co-operation

There are no government programmes to support trans-national intercultural dialogue, nor any specific government support for the trans-national activities of young people.

A small number of programmes promote talented young people to travel abroad, such as: travel grants for young musicians organised by the Ministry of Culture in 2007 (approx. 6 250 euros) and a similar Music Talent Fund of the City of Belgrade (40 000 euros per year), or specific Austrian Embassy mobility grants, awarded to 200 of the best students, to travel within the EU (summer 2006), but there is no policy on promoting language or cross-cultural training.

NGOs are the most active in this field, such as the European Movement and European House, students unions and associations (AEGEE, AISEC...), and activist NGOs such as Stalkers (sociology students), which organised several dialogues among Serbian and Albanian students from Kosovo. The University of Arts in Belgrade has regular summer schools and conferences, where partners from neighbouring countries participate in debates and dialogues. The Centre for Cultural De-contamination has organised many open debates and major programmes linked to rediscovering the truth about the latest wars, war crimes etc. Transitional Justice was one of the latest programmes in this respect, involving academics and students of media and journalism from Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia.

For more information, see our Intercultural Dialogue section

Serbia/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.6 Other relevant issues

Key issues concerning the Serbian Diaspora communities are the responsibility of the Ministry for the Diaspora, such as customs regulations, military service, voting rights etc). The Ministry has also been organizing and supporting some programmes in the field of culture for the Diaspora communities, but those programmes are predominantly traditional (preserving language, traditions and religion, nurturing folk traditions, music etc.).

Continuous cultural actions and projects coordinated and supported by the Ministry for Diaspora include:

In 2007, The Ministry of the Diaspora set up centres for the diaspora and offices for the diaspora-network bodies responsible for Diaspora activities on the territory of the Republic of Serbia.

In September 2007, a new system of supporting Diaspora projects was introduced. Open competitions to fund Diaspora projects have been set up in several areas: improving cooperation between the homeland and the Diaspora, fostering partnerships between the homeland and the Diaspora communities, protection of Serbian culture and traditional customs, protection and fostering of the Serbian language, affirmation of Serbian culture and traditions in the Diaspora communities. Competitions are open to Diaspora organisations as well as NGOs and associations registered in Serbia.

Serbia/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.1 Main elements of the current cultural policy model

The Serbian model of government is different from the models adopted by the different countries of Eastern Europe due to its legacy of self-government. In this system, there was relative freedom for art production and the majority of cultural institutions were owned by the cities. Since 1980, artists have been given the possibility to organise themselves in groups and to produce and market their own work.

It should be taken into account that the present system of institutions, arts groups and even artists had been created and developed throughout the ex-Yugoslavian territory, especially in the City of Belgrade. With the collapse of the ex-Yugoslavia, cultural productions (e.g. films, books, journals, festivals, etc.) lost their audiences, readers and markets. The cultural infrastructure that followed was, hence, too large to survive and demanded (in %) more and more public funds. This was one of the main reasons why there were few protests when the government resumed control of socially owned (self-governed) cultural institutions during the 1990s. Instead, it was considered a step to at least guarantee the survival of existing cultural institutions.

The current cultural policy model has changed slightly: key competence for cultural policy-making and funding is the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture and new procedures were introduced in Serbia in 2001.

Open competitions to fund projects have been set up in several areas:

The following is a list of criteria used to evaluate project applications: high artistic quality, protection of intangible cultural heritage, new artistic forms, cultural decentralisation, promotion of national minorities' art, children's creativity. Starting from 2006, the competition is held once per year instead of three times a year.

Project competitions in the media field are held once a year. Calls for projects have also been launched to support the Serbian language media projects in neighbouring countries.

By the end of 2006, open competitions to fund projects had been set up in areas of archiving, museum networking, as well as heritage research.

Decision-making processes for these open competitions had been transferred to independent commissions. That is why the current cultural policy model is described as a combined etatist-democratic model. As the mandate of the commissions expired in September 2006, the Ministry of Culture launched a competition for the selection of new members of different commissions - each having president and two members. There are 10 commissions for: cinematography, music, dance, theatre, art colonies-residences, visual arts and multimedia, cultural reviews, literary events and prizes, amateur and folk art, and one for programmes from Kosovo and Metochia).

It is important to underline that since May 2007, NGO's are again treated equally in comparison to public institutions regarding competitions or requests for grants. However, some priority is still given to the public sector institutions.

Serbia/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.2 National definition of culture

There is no national definition of culture in Serbian cultural policy however the use of the word "culture" has several levels of meaning as it is the case everywhere else in the world. In the narrow sense, culture is used to refer to areas of competence within the Ministry of Culture, such as: cultural systems (policy making procedures & network of institutions and organisations), arts, artistic production, dissemination and participation, projects and heritage. In the broader sense, culture also covers artistic education, research in the field of art and culture, and cultural tourism - areas of responsibility found in other Ministries within the Serbian government. In the widest sense, the word culture is used to refer to life-styles, values and visions of a Serbian multi-ethnic society. Very often, the notion of culture is used in this widest sense: the public discourse of government officials, stressing the importance of value changes within the cultural system including the norms, opinions and life-styles such as the "decontamination" of culture, de-commercialisation, fighting consumerism and chauvinism, etc.

Serbia/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.3 Cultural policy objectives

Considering more than 10 years of devastation, extreme centralisation, étatisation and manipulation, the necessary priorities for all levels of public policy making created in 2001 were:

The above priorities were never officially approved in the Serbian Parliament.

In September 2007, the new Ministry of Culture has officially expressed its own aims and priorities, approved by the Parliamentary Committee for Culture. The cultural system aims to guarantee the absolute freedom of artistic expressions, equality for all cultures in Serbia, preservation of cultural diversities and minority identities, respect for intellectual / artistic property and its European character. The main objectives have been defined as:

Serbia/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

In January 2001, the new government of Serbia was established and made the transition to a market economy and democracy. At that time, new cultural policy objectives were introduced (see 3.1). New priorities were established, initially stressing the reform of the Ministry structure, creating new procedures and taking urgent action to eliminate the impact of previous policy decisions. Emphasis was placed on institutional reform (new management approaches), analysis and evaluation of the situation of each public institution and each field of art and cultural activity. Absolute priority was to stabilise the field, which meant to work on new legislation.

In 2005, priority was given to the renewal of the cultural infrastructure such as a network of cinemas, network of local libraries and cultural centres. The major investment was the reconstruction of the National Museum. Efforts have been increased to develop new legislation for culture in accordance with European standards.

In 2006, the government accepted a proposal of the Ministry of Finance concerning the realisation of the National Investment Plan in the period of 2006-2011. According to the proposal, the seven areas of priority are: education, modernisation of the health care system and environment protection, transportation infrastructure, economic development (employment, entrepreneurship, energy, waterpower engineering, science and tourism), building, improvement in living standards (sport, culture and social care) and advancement of government management. Ministries, local governments, non-governmental organisations and others proposed projects in these fields. The whole process of project selection within the framework of the National Investment Plan had been organised in several phases:

The Ministry of Culture selected 50 priority projects, which will be supported within the framework of the National Investment Plan in 2006 and 2007.

The following is a list of criteria used to select project applications: importance of the institution as well as its role in the system of heritage protection; importance of cultural heritage / goods; level of endangerment of an institution or cultural heritage / goods; a well prepared feasibility study and documentation and stimulation of regional cultural development.

Support for cultural projects have a budget of 50 millions euros (in 2006 - 16.57 millions euros and in 2007 - 33.43 millions euros) which represents 3.97 % of the total budget of the National Investment Plan for the period 2006 -2007 (1 649 millions euros).

In 2007, according to more defined policies, the Ministry will focus on projects and programmes that will contribute to systemic changes in the cultural field, such as the approval of new laws and regulations (a new Law on Culture outlines the reconstruction of the cultural system); creation of new organisational structures such as National Book and Music Centres, Institute for Conservation and Restoration; creation of an Action Plan for the Roma Decade, a Programme for digitalisation of Serbian Culture, support to professional education prior to introduction of new methods of operation within the cultural system, such as strategic planning and evaluation, and especially support to education and training which would facilitate participation of projects from Serbia in European and international competitions (creation of Cultural Contact Point) as a consultancy point and systemic training activities)..

Serbia/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.1 Cultural minorities, groups and communities

There are more than 19 registered national and ethnic communities in Serbia, of which 12 are large enough to be considered relevant. Some of these groups are territorially concentrated in certain areas, such as the Hungarians living in the northern part of Vojvodina along the Hungarian border and the Bosnians living in Sandzak. Other groups are more dispersed throughout the country such as the Roma, Haskalis / Egyptians, Tsintsars or Slovenes.

Table 1:     Ethnic structure of population in Serbia, 2002



Central Serbia

AP Vojvodina








7 498 001


5 466 009


2 031 992



6 212 838


4 891 031


1 321 807



69 049


33 536


35 513



80 721


30 840


49 881



61 647


59 952


1 695



136 087


135 670





20 497


18 839


1 658


(Catholic Croat minority)


20 012








19 766




40 054


39 953




(muslim Slavic population)

4 581


3 975





293 299


3 092


290 207



25 847


14 062


11 785



19 503


15 869


3 634



3 901




3 154



108 193


79 136


29 057



34 576


4 157


30 419



2 588


1 648





15 905




15 626



59 021


2 384


56 637



5 104


3 099


2 005



5 354




4 635



70 602


14 056


56 546



2 211




1 648


Other / regional
affiliation / unknown

206 411


112 156


94 255


Source:      Office for Statistics, the Republic of Serbia

Following the democratic changes in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), a new Federal Ministry for National and Ethnic Communities was established. It is responsible for developing the general policy guidelines for ethnic communities, including those related to culture. On 11 May 2001, the FRY signed the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities. In 2002, a new federal Law on the Protection of the Rights and Freedoms of National Minorities was approved and, in April 2002, a new cultural centre for ethnic communities was created. The Law on the Protection of the Rights and Freedoms of National Minorities regulates the ways in which the rights of people belonging to ethnic minorities are implemented.

The law represents an additional resource to the constitutional law which stipulates the rights of preservation, development and expression of ethnic, linguistic or other rights relevant to ethnic minorities (Article 11 of the Constitution) such as:

Unique features of this new law are provisions aimed at the effective participation of ethnic minorities in decision-making on issues of relevance in government and in administrative matters. National councils representing ethnic minorities are partners and consultative bodies of the government, and their members participate in decision-making on questions of importance to them.

From 2001 to 2005, the federal government signed 51 Conventions on Minorities. However, in spite of the good will and intentions, ethnically based conflicts persist, especially after sports events and certain political decisions.

The Ministry of Culture supports a number of cultural projects and programmes by ethnic communities from all over Serbia. From 2004 to 2006, short-term projects of ethnic communities were supported with a budget of 11 million CSD (131 500 euros). There are also two long-term actions supported by the Ministry: reconstruction of the Cultural House in Ruski Krstur (house for Ruthenian cultural activities and programmes) and building the International ethno centre Babka in Kovacica (a centre for presenting Slovakian traditional and naive art).

Special focus has been placed on the Roma people due to almost complete neglect in former times. Municipalities and the province of Vojvodina have developed their own special programmes for ethnic communities within their territories. Two examples include:

In 2003, the Ministry of Culture and the Media joined the Council of Europe project on cultural diversity. The most important achievements in this area are, however, efforts made by NGOs and some cultural institutions. In 2005, the Ministry of Culture joined the action programme on the Decade of Roma people that provide support to their media and cultural projects.

Questions on the rights of ethnic communities have been discussed in cultural policy debates over the past 50 years, with different effects and results. During the 1960s, a network of key cultural institutions for ethnic communities was created (but, excluding the Roma and Vlachs communities).

Having acquired autonomy in decision-making, National Councils representing different minorities provide the largest proportion of funds for culture, festivities and events. There is no coherent cultural policy, nor instruments to foster links between the cultures of the minorities and the culture of the majority. Nevertheless, the festivals of ethnic cultures are supported by the Ministry of Culture, as well as the Provincial Secretariat for Education and Culture of Vojvodina (as events with high levels of visibility). One example of this type of activity is the holding of regular festivals of amateur theatre companies by the Ethnic Slovaks. The "Winter Meetings of Slovak Scientists" are devoted to the fostering and promotion of Slovak literature, while the festival "Dance, Dance" celebrates Slovak music and songs and dances.

Ethnic Romanians in Vojvodina hold literary meetings "Doctor Radu Flora", festivals of song and dance companies as well as the encounters of the amateur theatres of the ethnic Romanians of Vojvodina.

The Czech Cultural Society "Czech Beseda" traditionally organises the "Days of the Fancy Dress Ball or Masopust" in Bela Crkva.

Hungarian, Slovak and Roma ethnic communities living in Vojvodina have a tradition of holding cultural days. A good example of multi-cultural co-existence is "Duzjanica", a multi-ethnic event of Croats, Bunjevtsi (Backa Croats), Sokci (Uniates of the region) and ethnic Hungarians.

In autumn 2007, the Ministry of Culture planned to organise a policy meeting with members of Parliament and National Councils of Minorities, to discuss strategic issues relevant to the development of a new programme to support cultural diversities and intercultural dialogue, according to new guidelines.

The Autonomous Women's Center Against Sexual Violence, the Belgrade Gallery Kapelica Ljubljana, the Festival Protesis, and the School for Disabled Kamnik jointly organised theatre plays with disabled girls and girls from minority and immigrant communities to raise awareness about marginal social groups.

Serbia/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.2 Language issues and policies

From 1918 to 1991, the official language of the former Yugoslavia was Serbo-Croat, or Croato-Serbian, depending on which part of the country one lived. Both alphabets were recognised. Currently, there is also a third recognised language, derived from the same root, the so-called Bosnian language, which is spoken in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but claimed as the language spoken by Muslims living in Serbia and Montenegro.

From 1991, the official use of the Serbian language and script meant the following: use of language and script by government agencies, organs of autonomous provinces, towns and municipalities, organisations exercising public authority, public companies etc. The Law on the Official Use of the Languages stipulates which particular activities the provision applies. The official use of the language also applies to the inscription of names of towns and villages, other geographical names, streets, organs, organisations, public warnings and other public notices.

In the Republic of Serbia, the Serbian language and Cyrillic alphabet are in official use. The Latin script is used in municipalities having a considerable population belonging to people whose primary script is Latin, in line with their tradition.

In those areas where significant numbers of ethnic minorities live, the minority languages are in official use concurrently with the Serbian language. After World War II, ethnic minorities gained the right to the official use of their languages.

In AP Vojvodina, 20 municipalities use an ethnic minority language in addition to Serbian. 11 municipalities recognise two ethnic minority languages, and five municipalities and the city of Novi Sad use three ethnic minority languages in addition to Serbian.

Still, cultural practices are equalizing the use of both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabet; Cyrillic is predominant in official communication, while Latin is predominant in the marketplace and in business communication (billboards, shop windows, etc.).

The media (press) is published in both alphabets, according to their marketing strategies or tradition. (Politika - Danas, NIN - Vreme, etc.)

Serbia/ 4.3 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.3 Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes

Until 2007, Intercultural dialogue has not been a specific issue and / or a priority of cultural or other policies in Serbia. It was mentioned in the discourse of international organisations only, and practised in some NGOs. Therefore, it can be said that the main actors addressing the issue of intercultural dialogue were coming from the third sector associations, public institutions supported by international donors from the third sector, or, to a smaller extent, from the culture industries. However, the situation seems to be changing, as in October 2007, two working groups were created within the Ministry of Culture: the Commission for Intercultural Dialogue and the Commission for Politics of Memory and Remembrance.

Civil society is also contributing to the issue: The NGO theatres, such as Dah Theatre or the Centre for Cultural Decontamination, Cultural Centre Rex, etc. had developed a lot of real intercultural dialogue programmes and projects, from inclusive theatre performances to exhibition projects reviving the life of lost neighbours (Jewish community in Belgrade) or ignored neighbours (Roma community), as well as raising awareness and including immigrant communities (refugees from Croatia & Bosnia). Very often, those projects represented highly innovative hybrid artistic forms - such as a collage performance of Hamlet - Medea in the Centre for Cultural Decontamination, where classical and modern drama texts had been put in dialogue with documentary performances, based on real narratives of the Roma, and performed by them, while classical dramatic narratives had been performed as (contemporary dance). Dah Theatre created: Invisible City - performed on "bus 26", in December 2005, during a normal bus drive for passengers; and in the summer of 2007, they created the performance In search of the City on the ruins of the National library.

Both performances aimed to raise awareness of multicultural Belgrade - Belgrade which is slowly disappearing or hiding its multicultural faces behind global billboards and new signs of the post-modern city of consumption. The main issues were:

The bus drive was also re-presenting new contemporary spatialisation of social relations - so the first theatre performance was happening on a bus - but the stage was always the street, the neighbourhoods that the bus was passing through, and important city landmarks - buildings that still keep memories of lost communities. The second performance took place in a hidden corner of Belgrade centre, on the ruins of the National library (bombed in 1941), where later were discovered buildings from roman times. Since that moment, no decision could be done regarding restoration of the Library, so the space is staying as complex of ruins, witnessing the "no policy" toward heritage and collective memory.

In the cultural industries, the issue of intercultural conflict, differences etc. have been addressed often, as it has "dramatic" but also "cathartic" aspects. However, it very rarely succeeded in having high artistic results, with the exception of the movies of Goran Pakaljevic, Emir Kusturica and Srdjan Karanovic (opening up the issues of intercultural dialogue between Serbian and Albanian, Roma or specific social non-integrated groups). Otherwise, in popular movies, TV serials (Mixed Marriage on TV PINK), rock and folk music - in both dramatic and humorous ways, the stereotypes, prejudices and different options are presented without clear critical sensitivity.

Vojvodina represents particular and specific example of multiculturalism in Serbia. Due to the coexistence of languages, scripts, religions and traditions of different ethnic communities in its territory, Vojvodina has become a symbol of protection of diversity in relation to other parts of the country. A public information system, including the electronic media, is performed in eight languages (Serbian, Hungarian, Slovak, Romanian, Croatian, Roma, Ukrainian and Ruthenian). There are professional theatres in Serbian, Hungarian, Slovak and Romanian languages, financed from the budget. Classes are held in national minorities' languages, in more than 120 elementary schools. Therefore, the existence of cultural diversity is supported - but not dialogue between them.

Vojvodina has been facing significant challenges and problems in relation to its cultural and linguistic plurality (frequent national and religious intolerance in the previous period). In order to address these issues, at the beginning of 2005, the Provincial Secretariat for Legislation, Administration and National Minorities was charged with the duty to develop a complex programme focused on the preservation and development of multiculturality, multilingualism and protection of the rights of national and ethnic minorities living in this territory, in cooperation with other provincial bodies and other stakeholders. This programme was based on the main findings of a Communication on inter-ethnic based incidents that happened in Vojvodina in 2003 and 2004.

A project entitled the "Promotion of Multiculturalism and Tolerance in Vojvodina" was organised, with the main objectives of:

The Project has covered the organisation and realisation of the following sub-projects:

All of those subprojects are targeted to promote and to build intercultural dialogue in the different areas, as well as by the specific approaches. 

For more information, see:
Database of Good Practice on Intercultural Dialogue and our Intercultural Dialogue section.

Serbia/ 4.3 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.4 Social cohesion and cultural policies

As social cohesion is defined as "the capacity of a society to ensure the welfare of all its members, minimising disparities and avoiding polarisation", it can be said that Serbian society in transition had neglected such issues, at the expense of the rural population, retired population, immigrants (refugees), Roma and a few other specifically weak social groups.

Social cohesion has not yet been acknowledged as part of the cultural policy issue in Serbia. It is an issue within social policy, so the specific cultural needs of migrants (refugees, etc.) are not addressed through cultural policy instruments and measures. However, within social policy, it is very rare (only as an exception through the help of foreign donors), that art and culture are used.

The main actors involved in the social cohesion programmes and projects are NGOs and international donors. In this respect, we can cite several cases of good practices carried out through the work of the Soros Foundation, CARE etc. 

However, although there are no explicit cultural programmes to promote social cohesion, the Ministry of Culture has supported a few cultural activities directed at the integration of special social or marginalised groups into cultural life. One example of this kind of project is "Sky in the eyes", organised by the Cultural Front (NGO) in cooperation with the Central Prison Hospital, the Embassy of Great Britain and the Belgrade Youth Cultural Centre. The project was the organisation of an exhibition, which presented some of the patients' work from a large collection, covering the period from 1970, when occupational therapy started as part of the rehabilitation programme up to current times. The money collected by donations and the sale of patients' work was used to improve the treatment, conditions of life and finally to offer the right to normal living. The aims of the exhibition were: to bring public awareness to this important aspect of their re-integration into society; to provide a public a platform for prison arts and to encourage similar efforts in other towns in the Republic of Serbia. After two successful exhibitions ("Sky in the eyes" and "Neisključivi"), the project has been continued and broadened. In 2006, it will involve the building of a bridge between prisoners and the arts community outside of the prison, as well as to create possibilities for a reintroduction to creative work and society through different art forms.

In 2006, the most important project of the Ministry of culture was "In touch with antiques" (organised in cooperation with the National Museum in Belgrade, the Louvre, and the French Cultural Centre in Belgrade and the French Embassy in Belgrade). The project included an exhibition adapted for disabled people, as well as educative workshops conducted by students of the Faculty for Special Education and Rehabilitation.

Community Art action - artist Nikoleta Markovic and inhabitants of Solunska street, Belgrade.Community Art action

Serbia/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.5 Media pluralism and content diversity

According to the new Law on the Ministries (June 2002), the Ministry of Culture became the Ministry of Culture and Public Information. In spring 2003, it was renamed as the Ministry of Culture and Media, which started to develop a legal framework and policy instruments in the field. In February 2004, the Ministry again changed its name back to the Ministry of Culture, even though it is still responsible for the media.

The Law on Broadcasting was adopted in July 2002. It was amended two times (the first time in August 2004 and the second time in August 2005). This law recognises two public national and two regional TV channels, which are obliged to produce and broadcast programmes regarding cultural history and identity, as well as art productions. It is mandatory that the network of public / local radio and TV stations be privatised over the period of the next three years to comply and harmonise with European standards. To prevent the direct commercialisation of programmes, the law stipulates a public obligation for each TV and radio station to produce its own programmes in order to protect national culture and to foster employment of local artists and media professionals.

There are specific public radio channels for art and culture (Stereorama, etc.), although there is a private TV station - the Art Channel.

Public broadcasting was and still is a major producer of cultural programmes, such as drama and TV films, educational programmes, documentaries, etc., both independently and in co-operation with film production companies.

The implementation of the new law, and especially the creation of the Broadcasting Council, provoked a lot of public debate and conflict.

The provision proposed by law, to transform state radio and television into a Public Broadcasting Company, has been being realised. In August 2005, Parliament passed amendments to the Law on Broadcasting, which allowed RTS to collect licence fees, before its transformation into a public service broadcaster.

The deadline to privatise local public media has been postponed two times: initially it was postponed to the end of 2007, but has since been postponed to the end of 2008. According to the latest data, 100 are state-owned out of 313 broadcasting companies.

In 2006, competitions for the broadcast licences in the private sector were launched. The Broadcasting agency announced a few competitions: one for national broadcast licences and two for regional broadcast licences (Belgrade and Vojvodina). 20 candidates applied for national licences, out of which 5 were granted for broadcasting TV programmes and 5 were granted for broadcasting radio programmes. In June 2007, a competition for local broadcasting licences was launched and the broadcasting granting process is ongoing.

Anti-trust measures to prevent media concentration are issued by the Law on Broadcasting. The law limits foreign media ownership up to a maximum of 49% in the overall founding capital of a media company. It also regulates cross-ownership and media concentration depending on broadcasting coverage. Media concentration is prohibited for a broadcaster with national coverage which:

Media concentration is prohibited for a broadcaster with local and regional coverage which:

The Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance has recently been approved. Its aim is to enable both journalists and citizens to have easy access to relevant information. The outcome of the first phase of the Law's implementation is still far from satisfactory. There are a lot of problems with supervision of compliance with the Law; requests for information are not always welcome by public institutions, government bodies, as well as public organisations etc.

The majority of print media companies have been privatised over the past three or four years. The available statistical data on the number of newspapers shows nearly the same level today as in 1989. However, the data on circulation / copies shows a huge decrease of more than 50% in comparison to figures for 1989.

A certain number of radio stations, TV stations and newspapers are being broadcast and published in all languages of the ethnic communities in Serbia, which represents a solid base for further development and improvement of their activities.

Serbia/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.6 Culture industries: policies and programmes

In 2002, the Ministry of Culture in Serbia set up a Working Group to examine policy issues regarding the development of the culture industries. This issue is very important because of Serbian future membership of the WTO and also because of the potential of the culture industries for future economic development in Serbia. A statement provided by the Serbian Ministry of Culture has been included in a Memorandum on Trade to the WTO.

However, the culture industries and the media have not been included in a 2002 strategic document by the Serbian Ministry of Science, Technology and Economic Development for the period up to 2010. Therefore, one of the main tasks of the Working Group of the Ministry of Culture is to raise awareness and lobby for the inclusion of the culture industries in that document as well as in other strategic documents of the Serbian government, e.g. on small and medium-sized enterprises, etc.

If we measure the cultural industries' level of importance with measures suggested by the creators of certain sector strategies (strategy for the development of small and medium enterprises, strategy for employment, new strategy for economic development etc), one can draw a conclusion that in Serbia there is no systematic support for cultural industries development, mostly because there is no public awareness on the importance and economic influence of this sector for the development of the economy.

In 2004, about 1 316 enterprises were active in the cultural industries and the number of employees were 21 397. The proportion of employees in cultural industries compared to the total number of Serbian employees is about 1.36%. In 2005, the number of employees had decreased by about 9% compared with the previous year. This decline can mainly be attributed to the structural change in the field of radio and television activities (for example, transformation of Radio-television of Serbia). Concerning employment, it should be noticed that the number of those employed is much higher than is "statistically visible". The employment in creative industries is quite unique. It is characterised by atypical forms of employment: job flexibility, multi-tasks, higher job mobility, freelance contracts, part-time or self-employment activities. For example, the average of voluntary engagements (authors, freelance editors, actors, designers etc) per enterprise is 100 persons per year.

The economic performance (net profit ratio, income, net income ratio etc.) of enterprises in the cultural industries is better than the average for the whole economy. In 2004, the most profitable industries were publishing journals and similar periodicals (net profit ratio 22.26%), publishing books (net profit ratio 10.66%) and film and video production (net profit ration 10.4%). In the same year, the net profit ratio for the whole economy was 3.57%.

In 2005, the financial performances of these enterprises improved. Also, the rank of the most profitable industries changed considerably. The most profitable industries were sound recording reproduction (net profit ratio 17.28 %), as well as publishing journals and similar periodicals (net profit ratio 20.23%). In 2005, the average profit net ratio for the whole economy was 4.67% and the average net profit ratio for the creative industries was 7.78%.

The publishing industries, as well as radio and television activities, are the most important sectors in both number of enterprises and employees. More than half of all the cultural industry enterprises were in the filed of publishing (58%) and about 24% in the field of radio and television activities. About 96% of creative industry enterprises are micro-businesses with between 1-12 employed persons. There is also a significant concentration of creative industry enterprises in major administrative centres and the capital, which can be explained by a very strong infrastructure and distribution network channels, as well as a large supply of creative workforces. 

Table 2:     Number of enterprises, employees and revenue in the cultural industries, 2004-2005


Number of enterprises

Number of employed

Total revenue
(in thousand euro)

Sales revenues
(in thousand euro)









Publishing books, newspapers and magazines



10 431

9 241

327 935

357 617

290 764

308 481

Sound recording publishing and reproduction





11 657

22 428

10 429

21 414

Film and video activities (production, distribution and projection)



1 016


29 848

43 543

26 645

35 805

Radio and television activities



10 212

8 642

110 609

160 950

51 257

74 585

Source:      Svetlana Jovičić and Hristina Mikić: Creative industries in Serbia - basic facts and recommendations, British Council, Belgrade, 2006; H. Mikic, Potentials for creative-led development in Serbia, Economic policy and development of Serbia, Faculty of Economics, 2007, pp. 129-141.

The Cinema Law (whose infrastructure is mostly privatised), was developed with help from the Council of Europe. It created the Film Centre of Serbia, which started to operate in 2005. On the basis of an open competition, the funds are distributed to producers, who are obliged to return a certain amount. Television stations, as well as cinemas, will also contribute to this Fund from screening and broadcast taxes. At the moment in Serbia, Ministerial funds are distributed on the basis of competitions for film projects as subsidies.

The first steps have been made to create a National Centre for Book and Literature. This initiative has received support from the Greek National Centre for Books. A working group has been set up to develop the project further.

The most important achievement has been the acceptance of Serbia and Montenegro into the Eurimage programme. This was first confirmed on 14 July 2004 in Dubrovnik and officially approved on 17 November 2004 during the annual Eurimage meeting in Strasbourg. (Several projects have already received a Eurimage grant).

The Ministry of Culture in Serbia is also working on a new Publishing Law, a new Book Deposit Law, as well as on a book-policy strategy in co-operation with experts from the Council of Europe.

The huge project BibliOdyssey had been launched to improve the book trade infrastructure, with support from the Matra programme (Netherlands), the Open Society Fund, and both Ministries of Culture in Serbia and Montenegro. Within this programme, the BIS (Book Information System) and the Distribution Centre were created, bookstores in smaller towns were supported (10 bookshops) and different professional courses are being organised.

Another important and very complicated issue is piracy, which was particularly rampant throughout the 1990s, due in part both to the international embargo (making it impossible to pay for copyright), as well as the lack of government intervention, leaving "small entrepreneurs" to develop and enter this field legally. The situation in the film / video / television and music market has been almost completely solved, but in publishing, wide-spread piracy is mostly depriving the rights of local authors and publishers; local photocopying offices are even selling school manuals or best-selling books in "photocopy version". In spring 2004, the National Library, the University of Arts and the Publishing House Clio launched a huge campaign, "my private pirate library", to raise public awareness on these issues.

The increase in the amount of new book publishers, after 1991, does not necessarily indicate an expansion of creativity in the book trade. The number of new titles is often a misleading indicator of creativity. Many excellent writers emigrated from the country and others stopped writing. Only recently have new and important publishers been emerging and they are the key stimulators for authors and the book trade. Dismantling the old state subsidised system and the transition towards the market and privatisation has put the book industry in a difficult position, especially regarding book distribution and sales. This whole situation should be improved by introducing a new Law on Publishing according to European standards which would introduce new government measures in areas such as: incentives for authors (i.e. competitions for new scripts), sponsorship, creating authors' copyright societies, further improvement on the acquisition of books for libraries, etc.

In 2002, the Ministry of Culture introduced public library purchases, which could be considered as some kind of indirect support to the book industry. The Ministry has spent 19.5 millions euros in the last five years on this programme. This kind of support also exists in the city of Belgrade. From 2002 to 2005, the city secretary for culture spent 1.3 million euros on financing book purchases for city libraries.

The Belgrade Book Fair has lost its international and regional significance and it has changed its management structure twice since 2000. The participation of Serbian publishers at book fairs abroad sporadically receives public support from the state and from the city of Belgrade. In Serbia, an important project is being developed on the creative industries-creative cities with support from the British Council. In 2006, within the framework of this project, the study "Creative industries in Serbia-basic facts and recommendations" was published. The study provides: a comparative analysis of the different definition for creative and cultural industries; the economic importance and the potential of this sector in Serbia as well as in other European countries; detailed analysis of the available data on Serbian cultural industries and a description of policy measures available to support the cultural industries in Serbia.

There are no specific and systematic training and educational programmes available for cultural industry professionals. However, some partial initiatives exist in certain sectors of the cultural industries - for example in the field of media. The Media Art Service International, a consulting organisation from Novi Sad, organises and implements some educational actions such as round tables, lectures, seminars, free consulting services, and publishing of media outlets. In the last three years, the Media Art Service International organised several lectures such as "Educational Programmes in Local Broadcasting", "Broadcasting Development Strategy", "Professions in Broadcasting", "Self-Sustainability of Radio / TV Station", "Is a Documentary a Commercial Product?" as well as training: "How to Apply for a Broadcasting License?", "Networking and Time-Share Models" and "Media Project Management" in co-operation with the Secretariat for Information of Vojvodina and Novi Sad School of Journalism.

The most important project of this organisation is LINK (monthly magazine for electronic media development) and LINK PLUS EDITION - books with the purpose of providing media education, which was launched with the support of the Open Society Fund (OSF).

There is also training organised by different professional journalist associations, such as the Journalists Association of Serbia, the Independent Association of Journalists etc. Most of this training is dedicated to journalists.

Serbia/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.7 Employment policies for the cultural sector

According to official data from the Office for Statistics, there are 11 490 people permanently employed in the cultural field (for structure of employees in cultural industries, see 4.2.6). The table below shows the number of employees by sector.

Table 3:     Number of employees by sector, Serbia, 2004


Number of
employed persons

% share
of total


2 510



2 029





Performing arts

4 557


Heritage protection

1 201





Other cultural activities




11 490


Source:      Statistical Yearbook 2006, Office of Statistics of the Republic of Serbia.

The issue of employment has not been on the Ministry of Culture's agenda, except for recent efforts to transform and reorganise major cultural institutions. In fact, it is the government's general policy to reduce the number of public employees. In practice, the situation is different than official government proclamations concerning the reorganisation of public institutions. In 2004, employment increased by 5.4% compared to the previous year. There are no special working groups or committees that are exploring possibilities to specifically support entrepreneurship in the cultural sector.

Cultural and media professionals, as well as artists, have been very active in creating new cultural and, especially, media institutions (due to the non-existence of a broadcasting regulating body it was relatively easy), such as: radio stations (from 100 in 1995 to 162 in 2000), television stations (from 20 in 1995 to 66 in 2000), and theatres (from 26 in 1989 to 41 in 2000).

Due to these numerous self-employment initiatives, but also of the high "brain drain" of artists and professionals working in the cultural field, as well as the possibilities for employment offered by the marketing sector, the number unemployed in the cultural labour market is not really considered an issue yet. This is expected to change soon, as the numerous generations of artists from private universities appear on the job market.

Serbia/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.8 New technologies and cultural policies

The Minister of Culture provides support to the digitalisation of relevant cultural policy information. One of the most important projects is the Internet publication of a GeoCultural Map of Serbia, produced by the Institute for Cultural Development.

Communication through the Internet has started but computer equipment is still lacking in most local public cultural institutions. Professionals in the cultural sector are encouraged to download application forms for project competitions through the Internet and the results of competitions are announced through the website of the Ministry or of the cities, etc.

Another problem is the overuse of existing telephone lines, even when an institution is technically well equipped. Very often, obtaining access to the Internet is difficult. A more systemic telecommunication policy is required so that new technologies can be used to facilitate cultural policy debates.

Several heritage digitalisation programmes have recently been launched such as: HEREIN (digitalisation of tangible heritage), digitalisation of documents from the National Library (out of 2 million books, over 500 000 items have been digitalised) etc. The government appointed working group for digitalisation of heritage started to operate in the autumn of 2007.

Serbia/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.9 Heritage issues and policies

Activities concerning the protection of immovable cultural properties are carried out by institutes, including the Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments of the Republic of Serbia (central body) and 11 Regional Institutes with territorial jurisdiction over funds for monuments located in their own territory. With the exception of Kosovo, where 3 institutes used to work, this network of institutes covers the entire territory of the Republic of Serbia. Currently, the above institutes for protection of cultural monuments employ 348 people, out of which 207 are qualified with bachelor or other higher educational degrees. 

Since 1947, these institutes have conducted research on 194 archaeological heritage-sites, 37 monumental heritage items and 2 cultural-historical areas. In the same period, 1 214 research projects on archaeological heritage-sites were conducted by museums and 117 research projects by scientific institutions (e.g. the Faculty of Philosophy-Archaeology, the Archaeological Institute of the Serbian Academy of Science and Arts). In 2005, 90 restoration projects in the fields of cultural heritage and museums were implemented. The majority of the projects have been carried out on monasteries, castles, museums, archives and six archaeological sites.

The protection and preservation of movable heritage (museum objects, archives, film and literary material) are carried out by museums, archives and libraries. There are 124 museums (43 regional museums and 81 museum branch offices, museum legacies and homeland collections), out of which there are: 3 natural museums, 13 economic-technical museums, 28 social-historical museums, 49 complex museums and 31 artistic museums. The National Museum in Belgrade is the central body in the Serbian museum network. There are also 5 museums with specific competencies: the Museum of Contemporary Arts, the Museum of Applied Arts, the Museum of Science and Technology, the Natural Museum and the Museum of Ethnology. 

There are 36 archives, with 17 636 archive funds. There are two types of archives: general archives and special archives. General archives deal with archive material from all social activity areas, while special archives deal with a defined archive material or some particular activity branch. Most Serbian archives are organised as general archives.

The public library network consists of 159 public libraries, out of which 40 libraries have homeland collections. In 2004, these public libraries employed 1 547 people, out of which 549 were qualified with bachelor or higher educational degrees. The Serbian National Library in Belgrade, the Library of Matica Srpska in Novi Sad, Belgrade City Library, as well as 24 district public libraries are the leading experts in the library network

On the whole, the past decade represents a period of stagnation in the work of these institutes. This stagnation was caused not by the existing organisation, institutional network, or human resource potential, but rather by circumstances and problems of an economic, political and administrative character, by a concentration of power and funding in few hands, as well as by different kinds of pressures which hindered a professional approach, influenced results, and decreased efficiency.

During the past year, notable efforts have been made to correct omissions and shortcomings resulting from the preceding period, to provide minimum working conditions and to lead the Institute's work into the mainstream of modern conservation. Some changes can be seen, such as efforts aimed at defining a development strategy and conservation policy, which would favour conservation planning. However, insufficient funding still hinders or makes the realisation of most of the planned conservation activities impossible to achieve. Under such circumstances, professional work, as well as timely expert, preventive and operational engagement in the protection and preservation of cultural heritage is rendered much more difficult.

The current situation in museums is still very difficult in spite of the fact that protection of cultural heritage is one of top priorities of the Serbian Ministry of Culture. There are no specific and systematic training and educational programmes available for cultural heritage professionals. However, some partial initiatives in the form of life-long learning courses have been developed by the Diana Centre. The central objectives of these educational courses have been focused on different conservation problems, management and conservation approaches to the care of cultural heritage.

The lack of personnel trained in preventive conservation, as well as educational training for new expertise and skills are not only problems in museums. Museums also have no specialised marketing and PR services, animators and professional cultural managers. That is one of the reasons why the broader public remains insufficiently aware of the value and significance of their heritage.

Certain progress has been achieved to re-establish professional contacts and co-operation with international institutions and organisations in the conservation field, with the aim of improving methodology and knowledge in this area, as well as opening up possibilities to engage expert consultants on the more complex professional problems.

Efforts have been made to improve conditions for institutional work in cultural heritage institutions. The most important changes in this area have been made by the Ministry of Culture. The first step will be the reconstruction of the Yugoslav Film Library building and the creation of 6 new depots for storing film material. This initiative has received support from the French Government and the Serbian Ministry of Culture. In the framework of the National Investment Plan, reconstruction and modernisation of the National Museum in Belgrade and the Serbian National Library have been supported in the amount of 9.2 million euros in the period of 2006-2007. In the same period, for reconstruction and modernisation of national cultural heritage institutions, about 23 millions euros has been allocated, while for the purpose of reconstruction and modernisation of local museums and libraries, 3 millions euros will be invested.

On the whole, the network of institutes is considered satisfactory. It is possible that the territorial jurisdiction of certain institutes will be revised due to the fact that some may cover too much territory, such as the institutes located in Nis and Kraljevo.

A clearly defined conservation policy, including improvements to the existing heritage protection service will require a modernisation of all areas: from legal protection, documentation, categorisation, technical protection, to presentation and use. 

The natural heritage is under the supervision of the Institute for the Protection of Nature, which covers 25% of the state territory; however, in fact, only 7.6% are officially and legally protected areas.

Serbia/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.10 Gender equality and cultural policies

Gender plays a minor role in cultural policy debates. Following World War II, women played and continue to play a leading role in the cultural field. The problem can be seen at another level: while women represent the majority of employees in the cultural sector, only 30% of managerial positions are held by women in Serbia.

On the other hand, there are quite a number of women in key positions such as the State Secretary of Culture and half of the directors of national cultural institutions, such as the Museum of Contemporary Arts, the National Museum, the Museum of Applied Arts City Archive, Sava - Cultural and Congress Centre, the National Theatre in Subotica, the Ethno Museum "Old village" in Sirogojno, the Theatre Museum, the Historical Museum, the City Archive, etc. 

In many municipalities in Serbia, the position of City Secretary for Culture, (or City Officer for Cultural, Educational & Social affairs - in smaller municipalities), is held by women. Still, the issue of gender had to be considered more seriously, as general statistical data on gender equality in Serbia is not promising.

Serbia/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate

4.3 Other relevant issues and debates

The importance of cultural tourism is currently being raised within cultural policy debates.  It is expected that a partnership between culture and tourism will contribute to greater financial and organisational independence of cultural institutions and organisations throughout the country, as well as to a decentralisation of culture. The main challenge facing this partnership is the constant neglect of the tourism infrastructure, which left the country with a bad road infrastructure, lack of proper accommodation, poor communication facilities and not enough competent staff.

In 2002, the (former) Ministry of Culture organised a seminar on cultural tourism in one of Serbia's most famous (and now run-down) spas. At this conference, it was decided that urgent action was required to promote various cultural sites throughout the country, such as churches, monasteries, museums and monuments, as well as ethno-villages and other specific sites. The Institute for Cultural Development also organised two seminars for both cultural and tourism staff in 2002. The Tourist Organisation of Serbia organised its first meeting, in September 2003, to discuss promoting tourism in Serbia as well as building strategies for development.

Internationalisation, as a strategy of cultural development, but also of promotion of Serbian culture in the world, is the focus of attention for the joint action of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture. Creation of some new cultural centres abroad (currently, there is only one Cultural Centre of Serbia in Paris), preferably in Brussels and Moscow, are under consideration. "Branding Serbia" is also part of the government's activity, creating a committee for actively working on the re-creation of the Serbian image, away from the negative stereotype, towards a more positive imagine. The Ministry of Culture is prioritizing participation of Serbian artists in international events, as well as accentuating the international component of domestic manifestations.Islamska Strana Sire

During 2007, issues relevant to politics of memory and remembrance, intercultural and inter-confessional dialogue, and preservation of cultural heritage came into focus through the efforts of civil society and public authorities. Actions were in the form of cultural practices (festivals and events), policy actions (monuments, renaming of streets) and media debates. Several controversial actions occurred, such as the renewal of the Monument of the Four Faiths in Cacak, followed two days later by removal of the art project of the Italian artist (red and black flags), seen not as anarchistic but Albanian state symbols. The Centre for Cultural Decontamination held two days of debate on the issue of memory politics, while the media held extensive coverage of the controversial debate about historical figures and events. The cultural audience still wants and asks the Ministry of Culture to issue direct statements on controversial issues regarding the removal of monuments (such as the monument to the 19th century bohemian poet Djura Jaksic, which was requested to be removed from the church courtyard due to his "immoral" behaviour).


Serbia/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.1 Constitution

The Draft of the New Constitution was approved in the Parliament on 30 September 2006 and was planned to go to Referendum on 28th & 29th October. The Constitution represents Serbia as the country of the Serbian nation and all its citizens, recognizing cultural diversity and human rights among the main principles.

Serbia/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.2 Division of jurisdiction

Jurisdiction is solely the responsibility of the Serbian Parliament.

Serbia/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.3 Allocation of public funds

General laws regulating the financing of culture are the: Law on Activities of General Interest in Culture (1999), the so-called "Omnibus Law" (2002), issuing the activities and institutions in the territory of Vojvodina which will be financed by the Ministry of Culture and the Secretary for Culture in the autonomous province of Vojvodina. There are also regulations on important institutions and organisations for culture in Belgrade, as well as in the autonomous province of Vojvodina, which regulates a system of financing culture on the city and province level.

Serbia/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.4 Social security frameworks

The status of free-lance artists is regulated by the Law on the Rights of Self-employed Artists. According to the law, these artists are entitled to health, pension and disability insurance, which are paid by the municipalities. Freelance artists are usually organised in different professional arts associations, which keep a register of their status. As of 2005, the law had not yet been put into force and free-lance artists continue to be treated as any other self-employed professionals. This provoked a huge protest and revolt from art associations and they are currently asking for a revision of their status.

The register of freelance artists is administered by each of the individual professional artist unions. During the previous regime, many artists had left the "official" artist unions and created new, parallel ones. Therefore, currently, there are three writers' unions, two publishers' unions, etc., which is creating a problem regarding the registering of freelance artists.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Serbia/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.5 Tax laws

There are three relevant tax provisions:

The tax rate on the net income resulting from intellectual property rights is 20%. The Income Tax Law (RS OG No. 24/2001) provides a breakdown of the % share of income derived from intellectual property rights that is tax deductible:

After the Income Tax Law was amended in 2002, 2004 and 2006 (RS OG No. 80/2002, 135/2004, 62/2006 and 65/2006) the % share of tax deductible income derived from intellectual property changed as follows:

The Income Tax Law does not permit individuals to deduct for contributions to charity. This restrictive tax treatment came into effect in 2001 as a part of general tax system reform. The new Law on Personal Income Tax repealed a system of non-standard tax deductions, which could be up to 15% taxable income. Except for donations for cultural purposes, this tax-benefited treatment had been dedicated also for investments in objects with special cultural, historical and scientific value.

Deductions offered, in the Law on the Profits of Legal Entities, on donations to culture are not really considered as an incentive in practice. In addition, the character of cultural donations and types of organisations that may receive tax-benefit contributions were regulated by direction. The donations can be made for: production, prevention and research of cultural values and heritage; improvement of conditions for the development of cultural activities; international cultural cooperation; education and research in the field of culture and stimulation of creative work. The types of organisations that may receive tax-benefit contribution are in the field of: heritage, museums and galleries; artistic, literary and other creative work; film industry and video production; archive, library, botanical and zoological gardens and the publishing of books, publications and booklets.

The Law on the Profit of Legal Entities also regulates tax exemption for non-profit organisations. According to Article 44, non-profit organisations are granted tax exemption under the following conditions:

Incentives introduced during the former regime have disappeared, such as the matching fund "corporation-state / dinar na dinar". New incentives have not yet been created. At present, all donations (except those given through the government) have a 5% gift tax, even if the donation is made in kind. This represents a huge obstacle, even to large donors of equipment. The institution / recipient usually has to find another donor to cover the taxes to be paid to the state.

VAT was introduced in Serbia at the beginning of 2005. The general rate is 18%. A reduced rate of VAT for books, tickets for music manifestations and cinema tickets is 8%.

Serbia/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.6 Labour laws

In Serbia, all artists that are employed in cultural institutions are public servants under the Public Servants Law Regime (2005). The future theatre law envisages the introduction of a new model in which artists will be engaged on a contractual basis rather than as employees.

A general change has been made through a new Labour Law and new Law on Public Administration (2005), which will affect artists employed in public institutions or those working part-time in public institutions. There are restrictions on double employment in the public sector that are preventing artists employed by art schools to be also employed by public theatres (which was often the case, i.e., a professor of theatre-directing being, at the same time, an artistic director of the theatre, etc.).

Collective bargaining agreements exist in the fields of theatre, archives, museums, libraries and institutes for heritage protection. A special section of the trade unions are responsible for bargaining, enforcing and monitoring these agreements. On 29 August 2003, the City of Belgrade signed special collective agreements with all of the relevant trade unions, which would cover 1 600 employees in the city's cultural institutions.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Serbia/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.7 Copyright provisions

Efforts are underway to harmonise the domestic regulations on intellectually property with international conventions. Authorities are looking at various international documents and recommendations to aid them in their work:

The new Law on Copyright and Related Rights was adopted in 2005. It regulates the object and the content of copyright and related rights, the organisation for collecting royalties generated from copyright and related rights, and sanctions for infringement. The law extends copyright protection to any "original intellectual creation of an author, expressed in particular form, irrespective of its artistic, scientific or other value, its purpose, size, content and manner of expression, as well as the permission to publicly announce its content". A non-exclusive list of objects is included within the scope of the law: written works (books, pamphlets, articles, etc.); spoken works (lectures, speeches, orations, etc.); dramatic, dramatic-musical, choreographic and pantomime works; works originating from folklore; music works, with or without words; film works (cinematography and television works); fine art works (paintings, drawings, sketches, graphics, sculptures, etc.); architectural works; applied art and industrial design works.

There are no blank tape levies in Serbia. Existing legislation does not recognise public lending rights. Due to the difficult economic situation, there are no possibilities to cover these expenses by users, libraries, video rentals or by the government.

Serbia/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.8 Data protection laws

Information is currently not available.

Serbia/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.9 Language laws

See 4.2.2.

Serbia/ 5.2 Legislation on culture

The first task of the new government has been to impose the rule of law in all fields, which means re-creating the basic and most important state legislative documents starting with the Constitution.

Without a basic legal framework, which defines the territorial organisation of the country, property issues, privatisation, taxation etc., work on specific concrete laws in the cultural field would be futile. This was one of the reasons why many new laws relevant for the cultural field are only now in the process of being drafted while more general state laws are passed and Parliamentary procedures set up.

At the moment, the cultural field is still being regulated by the laws established during the period of the Milosevic government, including:

The Ministry of Culture has been active in the process of drafting new laws, acts and measures, such as the Decree on Special Awards for Artistic Excellence (October 2007). A new draft law replacing the Law on Activities of General Interest in the field of Culture received positive feedback through public debates held in 5 Serbian cities. It is planned that the draft law will reach the government in December 2007, together with the new on Law on Cinematography. In January 2008, several other draft laws will enter public debate: Law on Immovable Cultural Heritage, Law on Funds and Foundations, and Law on Museums.

Serbia/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.1 Visual and applied arts

There are no specific laws for the visual or applied arts.


Serbia/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.2 Performing arts and music

There are no specific laws for the performing arts and music. A Theatre Law is under preparation, mostly dealing with labour issues (types of institutions, employment policies, etc.).

Serbia/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.3 Cultural heritage

The 1994 Law on Heritage Protection defines public services in this field. A number of special decrees and regulations have further outlined rules on how to conduct inventories, to valorise and categorise cultural heritage as well as define the responsibilities of archives, museums, film archives and libraries.

Cultural heritage protection is one of the top priorities of the Ministry of Culture and Media because it represents the national traditions and identities of all people and cultures in Serbia.

The system and means of heritage protection is regulated by the Cultural Properties Law, dating back to1994. A new law is still in the process of being enacted.

According to the 1994 Cultural Properties Law, the activities to be carried out by the heritage protection institutes consist of: research, registration, valorisation, proposing and determining cultural properties, categorisation, maintaining registers and the Central Register, preparing studies, proposals and projects, providing owners and users with expert assistance in preserving and maintaining cultural properties, proposing and overseeing how technical protective measures are carried out, publishing the results of cultural property protection activities, and participating in the preparation of urban and territorial plans.

The present law, as well as regulations, are outdated and do not correspond with changes in the theory and practice of conservation and protection of cultural and natural property. Since 2002, certain efforts have been made to prepare a new Law on Heritage Protection and it is still in the process of being enacted. In August 2007, the new members of a working group for the preparation of the Law on Heritage Protection were appointed by the new team at the Ministry of Culture.

The Ministry of Culture initiated the draft of a new Archives Law, which currently does not exist. The aim of the draft law was to outline a new legal framework for archival activities in line with European standards.

Serbia/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.4 Literature and libraries

The Serbian Library Law (1994) defines the types of libraries (national, regional, municipal as part of one network and university and faculty libraries as another network) as well as the responsibilities of national and regional libraries in their respective territories.

The national library should organise and guarantee the quality of professional education, organise professional exams and give accreditation - licences to the work of librarians. Also, they are to select and issue the classification (CIP) to be printed in each book and be used by all library networks.

By law, all publishers are obliged to give 10 copies of each publication to the National Library; the books should be delivered directly from the printer. The books are then to be distributed among libraries of national importance in Belgrade (National and University), Novi Sad, Cetinje­ and Banja Luka - this shows the extent that the law defines every aspect including the techniques of delivery. During the 1990s, this obligation was not followed, as was the case for many other legal obligations in society. Amendments helped to reintroduce respect for the law and to follow legal provisions as a normal part of daily business practices. Now the new proposal of a Legal Deposit Law is being considered within the Ministry - to diminish the obligation, from 10 to 4, of the book copies, including a digital version of the book.

The Ministry of Culture is now drafting a new Library Law, which is to classify and re-organise pubic libraries according to UNESCO standards and to make the necessary legal provisions to improve their activities, especially in the context of e-publishing, digitalisation and networking.

The Parliament, at the request of The Ministry of Culture, approved the amendment to the Law on Publishing through urgent parliamentary procedure, recognizing the National Library as the only state agency for delivering four international publication numbers: ISBN, ISSN, ISMN and DOI.

Serbia/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.5 Architecture and environment

Information is currently not available.

Serbia/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.6 Film, video and photography

The former Yugoslavia was very well-known for its film production, not only of long features, but also in the field of documentary and short films. 20-30 films were produced per year. However, in 1991, with the dissolution of the country, only about five films were being produced per year. This situation is expected to change with new support for film production coming from both State Television and from the Ministry of Culture. The tables below show the number of films produced in Serbia, as well as motion picture projections in the period 2000-2004.

Table 4:     Motion picture (movie making) production in Serbia, 2000-2004


Feature films

Short films


Animated cartoon


Film tape

Video tape

Film tape

Video tape

Film tape

Video tape

Film tape

Video tape





























































Source:      Svetlana Jovičić and Hristina Mikić: Creative Industries in Serbia - Basic Facts and Recommendations, British Council, Belgrade, 2006.

Table 5:     Motion picture projections in Serbia, 2001-2004


Number of cinemas



Domestic films

Imported films



75 406

12 091

63 315



81 101

12 542

68 559



79 606

12 375

67 231



78 859

16 651

62 208

Source:      Svetlana Jovičić and Hristina Mikić: Creative Industries in Serbia - Basic Facts and Recommendations, British Council, Belgrade, 2006.

There are two basic public institutions responsible for cinematography in Serbia:

In Serbia, laws for film are considered out-dated and are currently being revised: the Law on Cinematography (1991).  In anticipation of the adoption of a new Film Law, the Ministry of Culture and Media organised an open competition for state funding to new films. From 2002 to 2007, 10.18 million euros were invested in feature films, in a number of short films and some documentaries, some of which have already received awards from international and national film festivals.

The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (now the Republic of Serbia) entered Eureka Audiovisual in 2001. It also became very active within the South East European Cinema Network and has now become a member of Eurimage.

A new draft Law on Cinematography has been sent to the Secretariat for Legislation and other relevant ministries.

Serbia/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.7 Culture industries

A new Publishing Law for Serbia is in preparation (see also 4.2.6).

Serbia/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.8 Mass media

Laws related to the mass media are the Law on Broadcasting (2002), the Public Information Law (2003), the Law on Telecommunication (2003), the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance (2004) and the Law on Advertising (2005).

The Law on Broadcasting stipulates:

The Law on Broadcasting also sets general programme quotas. The following obligations have been made:

The Law on Advertising regulates advertising and sponsorship issues. The commercial broadcasters are not allowed to use more than 20% of their daily airtime for advertising (maximum 12 minutes per hour of programming). Advertising time is limited to 10% of daily airtime (maximum 6 minutes per hour of programming) for public (national, local and regional) and civil broadcasters.

Serbia/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.9 Legislation for self-employed artists

Currently, new legislation is being debated for self-employed artists. If enacted, only free-lance artists, who are not able to earn a certain minimum income, will have the right to receive state support.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Serbia/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.10 Other areas of relevant legislation

The Law on Foundations and Funds was created in 1998. The main goal was to clearly spell out the differences between "foundations" as non-governmental organisations, created as charities to support certain programmes and ideas, and "funds" which were mainly created to give grants in defined fields / domains. The main difference lies in the obligation of the "fund" to have a financial deposit in a bank (to show that it is grant giving, not just a grant seeking organisation). Traditionally, the concept of a foundation as developed in 19th century (as a grant seeking and philanthropic organisation) in Serbia was linked to culture (protection of national cultural identity, promotion of culture etc.), so it was logical for the legislative body to give the responsibility for maintaining the register of Foundations and Funds to the Ministry of Culture.


Serbia/ 6. Financing of culture

6.1 Short overview

In September 2001, Serbia introduced a new budgetary system based on internationally accepted financial statistical codes, which enables the whole public sector to formulate and monitor all public expenditure in new ways.

This new system gives the Ministry of Culture, as well as all public cultural institutions, a new "philosophy" on public financing. At the same time, the new system gives Serbia an opportunity to establish a comparative system, which would be of great help to the Ministry to analyse and formulate new methods and instruments of cultural policy concerning public financing. The recent changes provoked a lot of dissatisfaction because taxes on each contract have been doubled.

The statistical system that currently exists in Serbia does not provide the real or full picture on the level of state expenditure for culture. In addition, allocations made to numerous cultural institutions are included in the budgets of different ministries, such as:

The Ministry of Culture of Serbia finances the work of 22 public cultural institutions of national importance (plus 14 cultural institutions on the territory of Kosovo and Metohija) and, via project funding, several hundred more cultural institutions and NGOs. The City of Belgrade finances 34 institutions that have city importance and 9 events and, through project funding, the number increases to a few hundred institutions, NGOs and individual projects.

To improve the system of financing culture, the government established an Agency for Cultural Development in June 2001. The main tasks of the agency were to:

As the work of the agency has not been clear or transparent, and its level of efficiency is very low, the new Minister of Culture has dissolved the Agency and engaged the Ministry staff to undertake its tasks.

Reform initiatives in the financing culture were introduced in 2002 by new procedures for financing cultural projects. It is very interesting that project funding (informal) includes two main budget lines: the first represents small action projects - the scale of the average grant is from 1 700 euros up to 7 200 euros. The second budget line is for major investments, dedicated to film production, library purchases and support to capital publishing projects.

Table 6:     Structure of projects financed by public competitions in the filed of arts and culture, 2005-2007





Amount in euro

Number of projects

Amount in euro

Number of projects

Amount in euro

Number of projects

Film festivals, awards etc.

 163 678


 201 906


 210 000


Performing arts

296 358


179 883


355 250



165 294


107 436


250 250


Visual arts & multimedia

 177 482


 324 023


 400 313


Literary events & awards

 54 882


 137 174


 80 437


Journals and magazines in the field of arts and culture


 177 067




  174 419




  226 687



Folklore, traditional arts

 104 529


 102 790


 84 250


Culture in Kosovo & Metohija

 67 529


 12 093


 111 150



21 765


67 000


33 125



1 228 584


1 306 512


1 751 457


Source:      Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia, 2006-2007

Table 7:     Structure of projects financed by public competitions in the field of media, 2005-2007





Amount in euro

Number of projects

Amount in euro

Number of projects

Amount in euro

Number of projects


231 111


233 032




Informing Diaspora communities

113 059


104 231


141 856


Informing national minorities



120 688


143 629



344 170


457 951


285 485


Source:      Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia, 2006-2007

The amount of money intended for competitions (in the field of arts and culture as well as media) accounts for approximately 2-3% of the total budget of the Ministry of Culture, which is more or less similar to the total amount of money intended for financing film production, library purchases and capital publishing projects.

Focussing on competitions, in terms of granting funds, there are five priority fields: media, performing arts, film festivals and visual arts. In 2006, these activities receive two thirds of all direct support granted by the open competition system (22-26% for media, 18-20% for performing arts; 16-18% for visual arts and 8-10% for journals in the filed of arts and culture). In 2007, financial priority was given to visual arts and multimedia (which receives 23% of direct support granted by the open competition system) and performing arts (which receives 20%). Since the open competition was introduced, no project in the field of cultural research has been supported.

It is important to underline that since 2005, cultural heritage became a financial priority of the Ministry of Culture of Serbia. In 2005, approximately 5.4 million euros was allocated for cultural heritage projects (e.g. reconstruction of Hilandar Monastery - 1.15 million euros; reconstruction of Palace Complex Dedinje- 1.44 millions euro; projects of archaeological research - 196 000 euros etc.). In 2006, the budget for cultural heritage projects increased by 25%. Table 8 shows the structure of the cultural heritage projects financed in 2006.

Table 8:     Cultural heritage projects financing by Ministry of culture, in euro, 2006


Total amount

Reconstruction of Hiladar Monastery

1 411 000

Reconstruction of  Palace Complex Dedinje

1 656 441

Programme of sacral built heritage reconstruction

613 000

Protection of the Serbian heritage monuments in foreign countries

220 858

Archive network

325 153

Museum network

1 079 754

Programme of regional institute for protection of cultural monuments

1 578 000

Projects of archaeological research (Faculty of Philosophy-archaeology department and the Archaeological Institute of the Serbian Academy of Science and Arts)

222 515


7 106 721

Source:      Report of the Ministry of Culture of Serbia (2006)

Philanthropy and donations to art and culture developed in Serbia in the 19th century as part of a nationalist resurgence, when the new bourgeoisie felt responsible to support the creation of national cultural institutions. The Serbian National Theatre in Novi Sad, and all the other theatres in Vojvodina, had been created exclusively through private support and donations. During that time, donations played a crucial role, both in the form of large individual donations, but also smaller collections of private support for important cultural initiatives that were not supported by the state - such as the gallery "Cvijeta Zuzoric" in Belgrade, which was built around 1930 with private donations.

After World War II, private ownership of property was banned and the only form of private support to the arts was made by individuals to museums, etc., or by collectors operating in the art market. However, enterprises (socially owned) acted as "corporate donors" up until the economic crises at the beginning of the 1990s. Nowadays, a small number of enterprises use sponsorship as part of their marketing strategy, mostly supporting art production with services or with goods. A revitalisation of the Serbian economy, as well as legal provisions, are the basic conditions which are needed to create more efficient partnerships between the business sector and culture. Recently, new art and business partnerships have been created by foreign companies that operate in the Serbian market. The companies such as Aktavis, Telenor, Philip Morris, LUKOIL, Mercedes Benz etc, continually support cultural programmes and activities in the framework of their "corporate social responsibility strategy".

The number of possible donors (foreign foundations for example) is very small because the law does not currently provide sufficient incentives to stimulate private investment in culture.

Serbia/ 6. Financing of culture

6.2 Public cultural expenditure per capita

Public cultural expenditure per capita in Serbia in 2004 was 18.22 euros (1 457 CSD).

The raise could be explained by development of investment policies of many regions, cities and municipalities after year 2000, as the need for the renewal of the cultural infrastructure, neglected for 10 years, had been absolute priority especially of the city of Belgrade. In the same time, as the subscription to media had been abolished, the state expenditure for culture had been raised to fulfill the public media needs. (The subscription was again introduced in 2006, so it is expected the downsizing of the expenditure per capita again).

Serbia/ 6. Financing of culture

6.3 Public cultural expenditure broken down by level of government

Table 9:     Share of public cultural expenditure, by level of government, 1994-2000

Level of government




















Source:      Statistical Yearbook, 1995, 2000, 2002, Office for Statistics of the Republic of Serbia

Table 10:   Share of culture in total budgets, by levels of government, 1994-2000

Level of government
















Source:      Statistical Yearbook, 1995, 2000, 2002, Office for Statistics of the Republic of Serbia

The present statistical system does not provide precise data concerning the share of different levels of government in the public financing of culture. According to the last available data (2004), government subsidies at the national level account for about 50% of the total public cultural expenditures; Belgrade City government subsidies account for about 18% of the total public cultural expenditure; and municipalities, as well as the Province of Vojvodina, take up the remainder (32%). Public cultural expenditure in Serbia can be described as highly centralised, with the state share constantly around 50% and more.

Table 11:   Share of the budget of the Serbian Ministry of Culture in the total government budget, in thousand CSD and in euros, 1997-2007


Budgetary expenses of the Republican government

Budgetary expenses of the Ministry of Culture

Proportion of the budget of the Ministry of Culture




13 820 981

311 834




16 807 473

289 154




17 640 691

245 088




32 702 454

557 690

15 934 000



127 339 827

1 074 235

23 871 000



217 379 629

1 389 625

22 818 000



318 691 919

2 954 919

47 814 000



362 045 252

5 851 070

85 305 000



400 767 778

5 608 642

70 548 000



459 407 647

6 376 627

78 240 000



551 126 440

4 942 284

60 345 000


Source:      Statistical Yearbook 2000 and 2002, Office of Statistics of the Republic of Serbia, Law on Budget of Republic of Serbia for 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.
*                 Excluded are expenditure of the National Investment Plan.
Note:         By the end of 2003, the Radio-Television of Serbia (public broadcasting service), the Regulatory Agency for Broadcasting, and the public enterprise PANORAMA were financed through the budget of the Ministry of Culture.

The share of the Ministry of Culture in the total government budget increased in the period from 2004 to 2006, but this budget growth doesn't mean a real increase of financial resources for cultural and art production (programmes). Starting from 2004, Radio-Television of Serbia (public broadcasting service), the Regulatory Agency for Broadcasting, the public enterprise PANORAMA, and the publishing organisation "Bratstvo" (journals, newspapers, magazines in the Bulgarian language), were financed through the budget of the Ministry of Culture. Financing activities of these organisations took up around 45% of the budget of the Ministry of Culture. By the end of 2006, financing of those organisations was cut, due to the introduction of new legal forms of their financing (e.g. broadcasting license fees, TV subscriptions etc). This is one of the reasons why the share of the budget of the Ministry of Culture is reduced in 2007., as there are no more "media" expenditures in it, while the rate of participation in payment of TV subscriptions has finally achieved the desired level of 80% (the resistance to the "renewal" of TV subscription in Serbia was great, as the "boycotting" of the payment of the subscription was part of the democratic battle at the end of 1980s and beginning of 1990s).

Serbia/ 6. Financing of culture

6.4 Sector breakdown

Table 12:   State cultural expenditure in Serbia: by sector, 2000-2004







% share of total

% share of total

% share of total

% share of total

% share of total

Libraries and publishing






Museums / archives






Performing arts






Radio and TV






Heritage protection






(only support to cinemas)






Other (cultural-educational activities)






Source:      Statistical Yearbook 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, Office for Statistics of the Republic of Serbia.

Serbia/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.1 Re-allocation of public responsibilities

The arm's-length principal is not part of the Serbian cultural policy model on any level - municipal, city or ministerial. Government authorities are responsible for nominating managers to cultural institutions and for overall management control. In order to set up this type of system, it would be necessary for the government to transfer its authority to the boards of cultural institutions and to the directors. However, in reality, the role of the boards is not known, and directors, nominated without public competition, are often too dependent on public authorities. The links and responsibilities between the public authorities and the boards, and the division of tasks between the boards and the managers of the institutions, have not yet been clearly defined. This means that monitoring and evaluation, as standard forms, have not yet been established. The boards of the cultural institutions usually approve a one-year plan and publish annual reports that are sent to the ministry, where further financing is considered and decided upon.

A new role for the boards of cultural institutions as strategic policy-making bodies should be established to coordinate government priorities according to the mission and strategic priorities of the cultural institutions. Currently, the board members of cultural institutions are paid by the City of Belgrade and are only partially responsible for policy-making. It is not clear whether, or not, the boards of national cultural institutions are voluntary bodies that are left to their own sense of responsibility and knowledge about policy priorities in culture.

Serbia/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.2 Status/role and development of major cultural institutions

According the Law on Public Interest in Culture, there were 22 national cultural institutions (including those located in Vojvodina and Kosovo) covering all sectors of culture.

The National Museum, National Archive, National Library and Republican Institute for Heritage Protection perform a key role in the overall system of cultural institutions. They also organise professional education and training and they provide monitoring and evaluation services. All these institutions are over-staffed and still lack new professional competences / skills in PR, marketing, fund-raising, human resource management, strategic planning, etc.

Provincial institutions in Vojvodina perform a similar role and have similar problems as the national cultural institutions. They are both large and dependent on public budgetary allocations (90%).

City and municipal institutions represent the largest network of public cultural institutions in Serbia. They are basically financed from the city or municipal budget even in those cases when, by their activity, they cover an expanded territory of several neighbouring municipalities. For example: the City Museum of Kragujevac is in charge of research and collecting the objects in five surrounding municipalities, yet, it is solely financed by the City of Kragujevac. City cultural institutions are more and more motivated to address the market.

For cultural organisations, the amount of budgetary subsidies as a percent of the total income can vary between 30% and 80% depending on the kind of activities. In 2004, budgetary subsidies represented 80% of the total income of museums, galleries, archives and libraries; 50% of the total income of performing arts organisations, 35% of the total income of heritage protection organisations etc. On the other hand, the share of different kind of revenues from the business sector varies from 2.5% (archives) to 40% of total income (preservation of cultural inheritance and sights).

Private cultural institutions were already created at the beginning of the 1980s, including galleries, film production groups and theatres. Now they exist in all cultural fields and are eligible for project funding. This has been an important development as private bookshops, for example, were not allowed to exist prior to 1990 (however, the first small book stand, as a private bookstore, had been opened in 1985 as a café-bookshop within the Yugoslav Drama Theatre). Private cultural businesses must pay taxes, similar to any other commercial enterprise.

Owners of private cultural institutions started creating associations to lobby for their new and specific position in the market, but legislators still do not recognise the necessity to create a specific status for private non-profit institutions, which would give them tax deductions or other advantages.

Serbia/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.3 Emerging partnerships or collaborations

More and more cultural institutions are developing projects with other public or private sector institutions due to incentives coming form different bodies, such as the Open Society Institute, the European Cultural Foundation, Pro Helvetia, Stability Pact, etc. This type of co-operation is also taking place on a regional (South East Europe) level.

Partnerships with the private sector are widely spread in Serbia, also due to the long tradition of corporate sponsorship and the economic necessity of cultural institutions to fund-raise for programmes and projects; throughout the 1990s it was the only way for cultural institutions to survive. Keeping in mind the current state of the Serbian economy, it is not paradoxical that the majority of sponsorship is currently in the form of sponsorship "in-kind" (in goods and services) which is not expressed in official budgets.

It is also noteworthy to underline that companies are financing and setting up their own art workshops, studios and groups, e.g. Terra Kikinda, Copper mine in Bor, etc. Many of these companies, and their projects, are eligible and receive financial support from the Ministry of Culture.

Some cultural institutions have launched different initiatives to attract money from the private sector. The National Theatre created an "Association of Business Supporters" and the National Philharmonic established a special "V.I.P. Subscription Scheme". These initiatives represent a new approach to establish links between the arts and business.

In an effort to stimulate inter-sectorial cooperation, the Ministry of Culture of Serbia launched a competition to reward the best strategic partnership between businesses and the cultural sector in 2005. The Ministry also created an award for the best achievement in graphic design, industrial design and branding.

International companies, such as Philip Morris and Erste Bank, have developed their programmes to support cultural activities and projects. Philip Morris in Nis is supporting mostly visual arts activities and culture and education. Erste bank, together with BCIF - Balkan Community Initiatives Fund (founded in Serbia in 2004) - supports small artistic initiatives and projects in Serbian provincial cities that have an Erste bank branch.

Serbia/ 8. Support to creativity and participation

8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

See 8.1.1 to 8.1.3.

Serbia/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.1 Special artists funds

The majority of support for creativity is given to cultural institutions and their productions and to NGOs on the basis of project competitions.

There are no public incentives for free-lance artists to, for example, write a book, create a visual art work, etc. They do have the possibility of applying for funds to support the exhibition and presentation of their work inside and outside of the country. However, there are no precise application procedures or any transparency in decision-making. Only a few private funds support artistic creativity such as: the "Borislav Pekic" Fund (for writing a novel) or the "Madlena Jankovic" Fund (usually for musicians).

Real mechanisms of support for artistic production still need to be created.

Artists are allowed a tax deduction of between 40-65% on their earnings for expenses related to their work (without documentation).

Support to creativity is the most underdeveloped area of cultural policy, which still needs a lot of work to build up measures, incentives and instruments. In September 2004, a working conference, "Cultural Policy and Art Production" was organised at the University of Arts in Belgrade, which provided a platform to discuss future policy measures in this field.

In 2007, the New Decree About Special Recognition / Acknowledgment for Extraordinary Contribution to Arts Creativity, and a committee for evaluating excellence had been created. The state budget has an allocation to support 250 "grants" (monthly allocations) - popularly named "National artistic pensions".

Serbia/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.2 Grants, awards, scholarships

13% of the state cultural budget is allocated to project funding in all cultural disciplines.

As public cultural institutions and heritage protection institutes are also entitled to apply for this money, the share given to individual artists is extremely small (approximately 10% of the 13% above).

Serbia/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.3 Support to professional artists associations or unions

The fact that professional artists' associations are legally treated similarly to all other associations (i.e. of art amateurs) has created a lot of tension between public authorities and those associations. They have lost all the privileges they once had during socialist times and have, upon occasion, even been expelled from their premises (because they happened to be located in buildings which were legally owned by some other organisation or private person, a fact not challenged before).

A new and completely different legislative logic is needed to differentiate between professional associations (which act more as trade unions for freelance artists), groups of amateurs and NGOs working on policy issues. In this context, a new Association Law has been put on the Parliament's agenda. It is expected to give artists' associations the possibility to earn money through their activities and to invest in projects of NGOs. The general assumption is that this new law will facilitate artistic workshops, educational activities, and will contribute towards job creation.

Generally, in Serbia, the transformation, of a state association of artists, to an association as a non-governmental organisation, provoked a lot of controversies and negative reactions among the artistic community, which felt rejected by the state.

Serbia/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation

8.2.1 Trends and figures

The cultural market in Serbia was ruined during the 1990s due to huge inflation rates and decreasing standards of quality of life. This also meant that audience numbers decreased, for example, film viewers decreased from 24 million in 1989 to 4.6 million in 2000. As the purchasing power of the population decreased, so did the number of buyers of cultural or artistic goods and services.

During the past decade, about 10.6% of the population fell below the poverty line and a further 20% people are barely at the poverty line. There is a difference between poverty levels of the rural and urban population - 14.2% of the rural population and 7.8% of the urban population fell below the poverty line. However, there are also some positive trends which indicate poverty reduction. For example, the Poverty Index in 1995 was 28.9%, in 2000 it was 36.5%, while in 2002, it was 14.5%.As the Poverty index represents some kind of purchasing power of the population, we can expect growth of cultural consumption in the future.

At the end of the 1980s, individual expenditure on cultural goods and services represented 80% of the total expenditure for culture. This, in itself, shows how large the art audience was and how strong and diversified their needs, practices and habits were to participate in cultural life.

In 1993-1994, due to huge inflation (100% daily), the price of an art work, a film or a theatre ticket, became insignificant - both for users and for institutions. The subscription system collapsed - both for tickets to events such as the opera or subscriptions to reviews and journals. Audience development and marketing became senseless.

Step by step, the cultural market is starting to recover. Art collectors are again reappearing, book shops in the provinces are starting to operate again, as well as cinemas, private theatres, etc. But, there is still a certain level of reluctance to recreate or offer subscriptions. One of the reasons could be the following example: in 1993-1995, publishers of many books or journals collected subscription fees, but then failed to send the goods to subscribers and therefore the latter lost confidence in the system. Trust is one of the key "institutions" to be re-established between the state and the population. The art market is expected to recover along with the banking and tax-paying system. A new government campaign slogan is: I love my country - I have to pay taxes on income.

Table 13:   Audience and user figures, 2000-2004





Number of visitors

Number of visitors

Number of visitors






1 295 000

1 515 000

476 106

1 700 000

Professional theatres

904 000

989 000

598 195

927 000

Children's theatres

308 000

285 000

198 583

256 000

Amateur theatres

155 000

131 000

22 240

165 000

Library (users)

5 363 902

6 199 029


4 703 000


4 096 000

3 056 000

1 591 571

2 243 000

Source:      Office for Statistics, Serbia and Office for Statistics, Belgrade (2005)

Book sales dropped from 26 000 000 in 1985 to 11 000 000 in 2000. Although these figures show more than a 60% decrease, it is important to remember that in 1993-1994, the number was even lower. In reality, the book market has started to regain its importance as a cultural practice.

Libraries: The number of library members is diminishing as they often do not have the books that users are looking for or they only have one or two copies available for lending. The majority of libraries do not offer an Internet service, so part of the audience has moved to Internet cafes where they can find the information they require.

Archives: the number of visitors and users of archives decreased from 16 907 in 1984 to 8 767 in 2002, due to the fact that archives have stopped organizing lectures, courses, temporary exhibitions etc

Serbia/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation

8.2.2 Policies and programmes

Over the past two years, the strategy of cultural policy-makers has been to deal with more general issues, to fight to establish a new legal framework, to reform cultural institutions and whole sectors - mostly focusing on the conventional area of cultural policy, such as production of arts events or heritage restoration and protection. This means that policy debates about civic participation and citizenship, as well as instruments and forms of policy measures to promote participation in cultural life have not yet been developed.

Even so, attendance at many events and programmes organised by public institutions or with public money are free, e.g. the Belgrade Summer Festival, all events in libraries, galleries and similar programmes in cultural centres. However, more and more cultural institutions are forced to raise the price of their entrance tickets or, as in the case of the Studentski grad - the cultural centre on the student campus, are starting to charge an entry fee for the first time. It seems that price is not a decisive factor of participation. The price of tickets for museums is extremely low, 30 cents. Concert prices range from 10-15 euros.

Serbia/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education

8.3.1 Arts education

A debate on programmes and models of arts education recently began within the Ministry of Education and Sports and was initiated by the University of Arts, Belgrade. Until now, arts education has been integrated in the curricula of primary and secondary schools only for a few disciplines, namely, literature, music, and fine arts. There are no drama, film or media literacy courses and, during the last ten years, workshops as well as extracurricular activities have disappeared from a great number of schools. A new Law on Education has introduced changes to reverse this trend, which will impact on students entering primary and secondary school in autumn 2003.

In the past years, only music education was systematically developed along specific educational lines, starting with Elementary Music Schools (in each municipality), Secondary Music Schools (in big cities) and Schools of Higher Musical Education (University of Art in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Kragujevac and Nis). Two ballet schools, at secondary level, are located in Belgrade and in Novi Sad. There are also several secondary schools for design and crafts.

Four public universities in Serbia and a few private schools offer programmes in the fields of theatre, film, fine arts, radio and TV. Together, they provide the educational background for a wide range of artists, art teachers, cultural managers and other professionals in the cultural field. The education of cultural managers and animators already began in Serbia in 1960, introducing thinking about productivity, efficiency and market orientation in the fields of art and culture.

Higher artistic education is fulfilling the needs of different professional qualifications except in the fields of ballet, dance and choreography, as well as puppet theatre. Various initiatives are being planned to launch adequate courses for ballet students and choreographers. Graduates from art schools (except fine art graduates) can easily find a job, and there are many professions where the demand is greater than "the supply" (music teachers, various orchestra players, sound engineers, cultural managers, etc.).

Art education, outside of the school curriculum, is left up to municipal cultural institutions (houses of culture) or individual artists. They are actively proposing courses, workshops, and events etc., mostly paid by the children themselves. Public (state) art institutions do not have an arts education policy or department. In autumn 2002, ICOM organised a working group of museum educators to start working on project proposals to raise money for such programmes. However, within the system of cultural institutions, there is a network of children and youth cultural centres, inherited from the socialist period. Today they are making an effort to adapt their work, considering new forms and practices.

Following the approval of a new University Law in Serbia in 2006, all the Faculties of Arts are now in the process of reforming their curricula and methods of teaching according to the Bologna Process. The first doctoral studies in the arts have been introduced, in many art domains, as well as the doctoral studies in art theory and art and cultural management at the University of Arts in Belgrade.

Serbia/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education

8.3.2 Intercultural education

Intercultural education in Serbia is not part of the general school curricula, unless one considers the possibility to learn the "language of the community" (which remained in the system from the socialist government's educational policy of the 1970s and means to learn one of the languages of ethnic minorities, i.e. giving the possibility to Serbian children living in cities with e.g. Hungarian or Slovak populations, to learn these languages). Education about world cultures, religions and traditions is integrated within the curricula, as part of history, geography and literary studies, as well as in music and visual arts. Art and music schools have introduced, into the general curriculum, artistic experiences from different parts of the world; literature classes have readings from the texts belonging to the writers of national cultural minorities'.

In 2003, the Ministry of Education, under political pressure to introduce religious education in primary schools, made a compromise to introduce together religious education and civic education. Within civic education, teachers are encouraged to use arts and culture in teaching about human rights, citizens' rights and responsibilities, understanding of different world religions, etc.

The only MA in intercultural mediation within the cultural management discipline was launched in 2002 at the University of Arts in Belgrade.

For more information, see our Intercultural Dialogue section

Serbia/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and community centres

8.4.1 Amateur arts

The number of amateur arts groups has been in decline. According to statistics from 2000, there are 300 000 amateur artists participating in groups such as theatres, choirs, music, folklore, etc. The whole amateur arts sector is in "transition", due to the fact that some of the amateur groups qualify as professionals, for example, choirs and folklore groups. Some are real groups of art practitioners without artistic ambitions. Many had premises and administrative staff, which made them very similar to cultural institutions and were heavily dependent on public funding. In 1995, the Ministry stopped financing these groups and transferred responsibility for them to the municipalities. However, the Ministry of Culture and Media still recognises the need to help reorganise the Serbian union of amateur artists.

In the period 2004-2006, the policy of the Ministry of Culture in Serbia underlined the importance of the amateur movement and has raised financial support for amateur festivals and events. The Republic's Union of Amateur Associations received, once again, a state subsidy. The policy priorities of the new Ministry of Culture, since 2007, transferred this responsibility to local public authorities.

Serbia/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and community centres

8.4.2 Cultural houses and community cultural clubs

Cultural centres as "houses of culture" were created throughout Serbia immediately after World War II, even in the smallest rural communities. Their principal role was to host cultural associations and amateur arts activities, as well as to present art works from the major cultural institutions (exhibitions, films, theatre plays, etc.).

During the 1990s, most of theses centres survived by renting their spaces to local businesses such as small shops, billiard clubs and jackpot machines. They also gave their premises to local amateur groups and associations for their programmes. Today, there are more then a hundred active "houses of culture". 80 of these entered the "Capacity Building Programme" supported by the French government and organised by the Centre for Professional Continuous Development of the University of Arts, Belgrade.

The role of cultural associations in the past 10 years was extremely diversified: ranging from those created to promote state nationalistic cultural policy, to associations created to fight against such policies. There were also amateur artists' associations, artists' unions, etc. The most important cultural associations created during the 1990s regrouped artists around a certain vision, to break internal and external co-operation barriers. Groups such as "Dah Theatre", "Led art", "Skart", "Fia" and "Remont" have widely contributed to the revitalisation of the cultural field and have introduced new ways of management and networking in Serbia. Amateur art associations, which were created during the period of socialism, have decreased both in number and in activities, not being able to find a new mission and a new purpose in the changing circumstances / conditions.

Throughout the 1990s, newly created associations and NGOs were very active. As an alternative to the established cultural system, they succeeded in getting international support and recognition. Due to this fact, many of the leaders of these NGOs were given the opportunity to participate in different management programmes and leadership training courses, which gave them new and better capacities to function in comparison to those running associations or cultural institutions in a traditional manner.

In the mid 1990s, the Fund for an Open Society (Soros Foundation) helped to create a Centre for NGO support, which provided consultancy and training advice to numerous NGOs in Serbia. Many were also encouraged and supported by different international organisations and joined various European and South East European networks and exchange programmes which provided them with new competencies as well as collegial support. The result was an improvement of the internal and external networking, especially in the cultural field and the inclusion of the NGO movement in a larger socio-political arena (e.g. Balkankult, Association of Alternative Theatres, etc.).

Serbia/ 9. Sources and Links

9.1 Key documents on cultural policy

Bogicevic, Biljana et al.: Poverty and Financial Support Reform for Poor People.  Belgrade: Centre for Liberal-democratic Studies, 2003.

Djukic Dojcinovic, Vesna: Tranzicione kulturne politike - konfuzije i dileme. Belgrade: Zaduzbina Andrejevic, 2003.

Djukic Dojcinovic, Vesna: Cultural Policies in Serbia 1989-2001. Belgrade: Institute for Cultural Development, 2003. 

Dragicevic Sesic, Milena: Cultural Policy, the Institutional System and Art Trends in Serbia between the Past and the Future, ed. Dusan Janjic, Belgrade: Forum for Ethnic Minorities, 1997.  

Dragicevic Sesic Milena & Sanjin Dragojevic. Intercultural dialogue and mediation on the Balkans, University of Arts, Belgrade, 2007. (CD in English and French)

Dragicevic Sesic, Milena: Cultural Policies in Central and Eastern Europe - Comparative Approach. Bucharest: Review 22, 2001. 

Dragicevic M., Jovicic S. and Mikic H.: Strategic Development of Culture in Belgrade. Zbornik Fakulteta dramskih umetnosti, br. 11-12/2007. 

Group of Authors: Models & Instruments of Belgrade Cultural Policies (Modeli i instrumenti kulturne politike grada Beograda). Belgrade: Institute for Cultural Development, 2003.

Jankovic, Jelena: Place of the Classical Music Festivals in a Transitional Society. Belgrade: University of Arts, 2006.   

Jovičić, Svetlana and Mikić, Hristina: Creative industries in Serbia - basic facts and recommendations, British Council, Belgrade, 2006.

Mikić, Hristina: Potentials for Creative-led Development in Serbia. Belgrade: Economic policy and development of Serbia, Faculty of Economics, 2007.

Velimir Ćurgus Kazimir: Ten Years Against, Serbian Citizens in the Fight for Democracy and an Open Society, 1991-2001. Belgrade: Media Centre, 2001. 

Serbia/ 9. Sources and Links

9.2 Key organisations and portals

Cultural policy making bodies

Ministarstvo kulture i medija Republike Srbije (Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia)

Grad Beograd (City of Belgrade)

Government of the Republic of Serbia

Provincial Secretariat for Culture and Education

Professional associations

REMONT - Independent Art Association

Udruzenje likovnih umetnika (Association of Visual Artists)

Grant-giving bodies

Pro Helvetia Belgrade

Fund for Open Society, Belgrade

Cultural statistics and research

Centre for Study of Cultural Development, Belgrade

Review Kultura, Belgrade

GeoCultural Map of Serbia

UNESCO - ENCATC Survey on Cultural Management Teaching in the Region

Culture / arts portals

Artists and Art Organisations of Serbia

Seecult-portal za kulturu jugoistocne Evrope  / for South East European Cultures

Radio and Television B92

Rastko Project

Communication: A portal for the Electronic Edition of Cultural and Academic Reviews

Dah Theater


The Council of Europe/ERICarts "Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, 9th edition", 2008